Does IVF cause weight gain?

By author photo Melanie McGrice

pregnancy · 05 Jul 19

Gaining weight during IVF treatment is a common side effect that many women experience. But, is the IVF to blame?

Before I dive into answering this question, let’s get something straight. Pregnancy clearly causes weight gain, so it’s important not to confuse IVF treatment up to the embryo implantation stage as being a culprit of weight gain after it. What I’m talking about is the IVF process itself and its link to weight gain.

The weight gain is real

The high estrogen levels during the superovulation phase of the IVF cycle can lead to fluid retention and  cause weight gain for some women. But it is only temporary and once the superovulation stops, the hormones get excreted into the urine. Most women will quickly lose the fluid they accumulated and will go back to their normal body weight.

Some women will also put on weight by storing more fat during IVF but some also maintain their weight, and some will lose a little. The science isn’t clear if this is caused by the IVF drugs or not. But, while you cannot control the affect the IVF hormones will have, you can control food intake and activity levels.

It seems many women are less active during embryo transfer because of concerns of exercise affecting a successful implantation. Less activity can lead to weight gain, but this has little to do with the IVF drugs.

What have emotions got to do with it?

IVF can be stressful, and this is combined with mood swings that come from it. Some people are natural overeaters when stressed. Other people eat less when stressed.

In a nutshell, every woman responds differently to IVF. Weight gain, when it happens, is more a result of changes in physical activity habits and an eating response from stress and mood changes.

What to do about it

If you’ve experienced weight gain from your IVF treatment, this isn’t the time to embark on intensive weight loss diets just to drop a few kilograms! Your health and nutritional needs mean you want to be eating well during this time. Fad and crash diets could even jeopardise your chance of becoming pregnant. Programs such as Jenny Craig that don’t restrict any foods and encourage a steady rate of weight loss may be helpful for some.

Also if you’ve consciously become less active, then increasing physical activity can be easier to fix.

If stress is causing you to overeat, then it is a great time to control this with things other than food. Yoga and exercise are good options. On top of this, make healthy food choices your top priority rather than restricting foods. So that means plenty of fruits and veggies.

And the good news is that if hormone treatments are a cause of weight gain for you, especially if it is fluid, you can expect to lose that weight once the treatments stop.

 

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