obesity

Losing weight before conception

Weight loss before baby: Princeton IVF blog
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This time of year is a time when many couples who are having trouble conceiving decide it’s time to start seeking help. That help could come from the OBGYN, a midwife or a fertility specialist. It’s also a time in the year, after indulging during the holidays, when many of us have a few extra pounds to shed.

For those who are overweight, part of that advice will be to lose weight before conception.

While this may not be easy, there are multiple reasons why weight loss before pregnancy is good advice.

  • Being overweight will reduce the chances of you getting pregnant on your own

  • Being overweight will increase the chances that if you do get pregnant, you will miscarry

  • Being overweight will increase the chances of medical complications during pregnancy such as diabetes and high blood pressure.

  • While diet and exercise during pregnancy can help limit weight gain during pregnancy, it is not likely to reduce the likelihood of pregnancy-related complications such as diabetes and hypertension.

Delaying pregnancy and excess weight are both bad for fertility, so delaying pregnancy for weight loss is balancing two risks.

At what point do the risks of delaying pregnancy offset the benefits of weight loss?

  • According to a recent study presented at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, women in their late 30’s or those have poor ovarian reserve may be best off not delaying childbearing despite the obvious benefits.

Your weight and your fertility

Your weight can affect your fertility: Princeton IVF blog
Being overweight can make it take longer to get pregnant in both men and women.

If either partner is overweight, it can harm your fertility

It has been know for for years that women who are overweight have a lower chance for success for IVF, and most fertility specialists encourage their patients who are overweight, to lose weight if possible, before treatment. So, the next logical questions is this: Does being overweight affect your chances of getting pregnant on your own even if you do not have infertility?

A study by National Institutes of Health (NIH) addressed that particular issue. The study was called the Longitudinal Investigation of Fertility and the Environment (LIFE) Study and they looked at couples who were both normal and with various degrees of being overweight to see how long it took them to conceive, commonly referred to as TTC. They looked about 500 couples from Texas and Michigan  and broke them down into 4 groups, normal weight (BMI 18-25), overweight (BMI 25-25), class I (BMI 30-34.9) and class II (BMI 35 and higher).  

The researchers found that in couples with class II obesity ( BMI > 35), it took 55% more time to conceive, than in normal weight couples.

It means that being significantly overweight not only affects your chances for pregnancy with fertility treatments such as IVF, it also makes it more difficult to conceive on your own.

Weight does impact the chances for IVF success

We have know for years that being overweight can affect fertility and lower success rates for infertility treatments such as IVF. Some centers have even set weight limits on IVF treatment for this reason. However, it wasn't clear if being overweight was harming the eggs or making the uterus less receptive to pregnancy. A recent study from Spain found that overweight patients had lower pregnancy rates even when they got eggs from a normal weight woman, meaning that this effect is due at least in part to a problem with the uterus. The take home lesson: weight loss may improve your chances of having a baby even with donor eggs. For more information from Dr. Sanjay Gupta's Guide, click here