How Does Weight Affect Fertility? Looking at Both Sides of the Scale

A healthy body weight plays an important role in fertility. Being overweight or underweight can make achieving pregnancy more difficult mainly because of its effect on ovulation.

Excess weight can lead to anovulation (absence of ovulation) which often manifests as irregular menstruation. The good news is that losing weight can restore regular menstruation and bring about healthy ovulation whereby increasing the likelihood of pregnancy.

The same goes for those who are underweight. In this case, either anovulation or irregular ovulation can be an issue. With irregular ovulation, the uterine lining may not become thick enough for the fertilized egg to sufficiently implant and grow and even if it does implant, sustaining the pregnancy under such circumstances is difficult, making miscarriage a likely occurrence. In a study published in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, women whose body mass indexes were below 18.5 were 72% more likely to miscarry in their first trimester.

The bottom line is that too much or too little body fat will disturb the normal hormonal balance and subsequently affect menstruation and ovulation. Reaching a healthy weight can help reverse these issues and create a healthy environment for conception to occur.

With a proper daily diet plan and lifestyle modifications, both these issues can be resolved. To lose the excess weight, following a tailored weight loss dietary plan with a focus on eating whole, unprocessed foods and regular exercise can make a big difference. A 5 to 10 % weight loss can greatly impact ovulation. For those individuals who continue to have a difficult time losing weight despite all efforts, further investigation is warranted as other conditions may be involved such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) which may be the cause of infertility and the difficulty behind losing the excess weight.

For those who are underweight, a healthy nutrient rich weight gain program will help bring about a healthier weight that supports fertility. Making healthy fats such as nuts and seeds, olive oil, and flaxseed oil part of every meal is an important part of this process.

Although weight is only one of the factors affecting fertility, it is an important one which should not be overlooked. Aside from optimizing the chances of pregnancy, having a healthy weight will also mean an advantage in all facets of overall wellbeing: more energy, better mood and less likelihood of pregnancy-related complications such as gestational diabetes, miscarriage as well as low birth weight.

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