Weight and Fertility

By author photo Melanie McGrice


Did you know one in 6 Australian couples experience infertility? Infertility can be caused by physical or medical conditions such as damage to the fallopian tubes or early menopause. However, nutrition, lifestyle habits and weight also play a critical role. In fact, research shows for every point higher on the BMI scale, your chance of falling pregnant decreases by 4% (over a BMI of 29). That means for a healthy woman with a BMI of 45 she will have a 60% chance of being infertile!

Let’s look at why weight and what you eat are so important for getting pregnant.

How does being overweight affect your fertility?

Stored body fat  increases the production of a hormone called estrogen. When hormone production becomes out of balance, it can affect the ability to ovulate. As such, many women who are overweight don’t have regular periods, making it much more difficult to conceive. In fact, about 30% of infertility is caused by hormone imbalance. Unfortunately, even if your periods are regular, a woman who is overweight is still much more likely to struggle to get pregnant than a woman of a healthy weight.

Common medical conditions which may reduce fertility

You may have heard of medical conditions such as Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome or Insulin Resistance. These medical conditions and many others are common in women who are overweight and play havoc with your hormones making it more challenging to conceive. Being a healthy weight can also help to reduce the effects of these medical conditions.

What should you do if you’re overweight and struggling to conceive?

The first step is to have a thorough assessment with your doctor to check for medical conditions such as these, then find a good dietitian who can help you manage the condition. Next, you need to make a concerted effort to try to lose weight to help optimise your hormone production. Weight loss can be more difficult in women who have medical conditions such as PCOS or insulin resistance, so be patient.

You’ll need to find the right support and follow a meal plan that is easy to follow and doesn’t exclude whole food groups like the Jenny Craig program.

Find out more

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