Body Mass Index (BMI) chart

The Impact of Obesity on Female Fertility

Obesity and Infertility

Obesity has damaging effects on a woman’s reproductive health. There have been numerous studies linking infertility and obesity, displaying that a high population of infertile women are obese. The risk of infertility, a miscarriage, and pregnancy complications are highly increased for women who are obese. Obesity can bring about many problems, but here’s how it can impact your chances of having a baby.

Obesity and Menstrual Irregularities

If you are obese, you are more susceptible to menstrual irregularities that can affect your fertility. You have a greater chance of experiencing an anovulatory cycle, which is a menstrual cycle where ovulation does not take place. An oocyte is not released during this cycle, decreasing your chances of becoming pregnant. Chronic anovulation is a common cause of infertility.

Obesity and Reduced Conception Rate

Obese women are more likely to have trouble conceiving through natural and assisted conception methods. Obesity impairs fertility affecting ovulation, embryo development, endometrial development and implantation. It negatively affects your ability to conceive, resulting in poor reproductive outcomes even through assisted conception such as IVF.

Obesity and Increased Miscarriage Rates

Multiple studies have associated obesity and miscarriages together. Obese women have been shown to be at an increased risk of a miscarriage and a recurrent miscarriage compared to women of normal weight. Women who are obese also have a greater chance of developing polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), which can result in a miscarriage. PCOS is a hormonal condition that can affect your hormone levels, periods, and ovulation. It is one of the leading causes of infertility and faces a higher rate of miscarriages. The exact cause of a miscarriage due to PCOS is unknown, but hormonal irregularities in women with PCOS may cause a miscarriage. Although overweight women are at an increased risk for a miscarriage, there are still plenty of obese women who have reached full term and successfully delivered a baby.

Obesity and Increased Pregnancy Complications

Obese women are more at risk for pregnancy complications and other health problems. Complications include hypertension, preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, infection, blood clotting and stillbirth. Obesity during pregnancy can also put you at risk for sleep apnea. During pregnancy, this condition alone could lead to other serious health problems including fatigue, high blood pressure, preeclampsia, and heart and lung disorders.

Fertility After Weight Loss

If you are overweight, the best way to solve infertility issues is to lose weight. Weight loss of as little as 5% of your weight has been shown to improve the reproductive outcome of fertility in obese infertile women. You have to carefully manage your weight, pay attention to your diet and exercise. Find a balance between eating healthy meals and staying at a healthy weight to help increase your chances of conceiving and having a healthy pregnancy. Talk to a nutrition counselor to get started on your weight loss journey.

Find a Reproductive Specialist in New York

If you are overweight, you still have a chance of a successful pregnancy. At NYU Langone Reproductive Specialists of New York, our goal is to help you create the family of your dreams as quickly and inexpensively as possible. We know it can be difficult to seek fertility care, but we are here to make the process as stress-free as possible. Contact us today to schedule an appointment at one of our four locations in NY.