Weight Matters When Trying to Conceive

young woman in exercise wear worrying about being under weight

Weight Matters When Trying to Conceive

In the past 10 to 15 years, fertility specialists have become even more aware of what a “whole body system” the body is for each of our patients.

We simply cannot look at the reproductive system on its own. Instead, we have to view it in relationship with the patient’s entire body and her lifestyle, and that assessment continues to her partner and his body and lifestyle.

3 Ways Weight Matters When TTC

That is why your weight matters when trying to conceive (TTC). Your weight is also linked to a number of physical and biochemical systems. As a result of those complex relationships, being under- and overweight can negatively impact fertility.

Know Your BMI (Body Mass Index)

The ideal BMI for healthy fertility is between 20 and 25. Below 20 means you are underweight and above 25 means you are overweight or in the obese range. Click Here to visit the NIH’s BMI calculator and determine your body mass index (BMI).

If you fall outside the 20 – 25 BMI range, schedule an appointment with your gynecologist or GP to discuss your concerns and to create a personalized, sustainable weight management plan.

1. Obesity is linked to infertility issues

Being overweight or obese puts you at higher risk for infertility issues. While we are not 100% sure why or how obesity affects the female and male reproductive systems, we do know that being overweight raises your chances of experiencing:

  • Insulin resistance that affects reproductive hormone balance
  • Higher estrogen levels (produced by extra fat cells)
  • Preterm labor
  • Lower sperm count/motility
  • Elevated risk of gestational diabetes
  • Higher miscarriage rates
  • A baby with a higher birth weight
  • Complications due to high blood pressure
  • Preeclampsia

Does being overweight mean you can’t get pregnant and enjoy a healthy, full-term pregnancy? No. However, managing your weight so that you get between the 20-25 BMI increases your chances of both, and also reduces your risk for other health risks over time.

2. Being underweight is also linked to infertility

Here’s the clincher; in a society that places so much emphasis on “being thin,” we’ve forgotten that too thin isn’t healthy either.

Women with a BMI of 19 and lower are considered underweight and can also struggle to get pregnant or enjoy a healthy pregnancy. This is common for women who are extreme athletes, marathon runners, and those who have a history of eating disorders.

Being underweight can also cause reproductive hormone imbalances, typically a shutdown of estrogen production, leading to skipped and irregular (or a lack of) periods/ovulation. Other fertility or pregnancy risks for underweight women are:

  • Having a premature birth, which compromises baby’s health
  • Having a baby with a low birth weight

If you are underweight because you struggle with body image or have/had an eating disorder, we highly recommend working with a fertility counselor or therapist to support your personal journey as you pursue your fertility journey. If you are underweight due to your athletic schedule, this is a time to scale back on the physical exertion to get your hormones back in balance.

Your Male Partner’s Weight Matters, Too

Women aren’t the only ones who need to initiate diet, exercise, and lifestyle changes to manage their weight. Male partners need to do the same.

Men who fall outside of the normal fertility BMI ranges Men who are over- or underweight often have:

  • Lower testosterone levels
  • Lower sperm counts
  • Sperm with irregular shapes (morphology) or that don’t swim as well (motility).
  • Lower libido
  • Higher rates of erectile dysfunction

We see over and over again how the woman becomes the focus of fertility testing when, in fact, infertility factors are shared 50/50 between men and women. Get your partner on board if he is under- or overweight.

Struggling with Normal Weight & Infertility?

Are you struggling to get pregnant and find that you and/or your partner have low- or high-BMIs? The first step is to make the diet and lifestyle changes necessary to manage your weight. We realize that isn’t as easy as it reads, so get the professional support you need to create a sustainable weight-management program that makes you feel good about yourself.

Read, Your Pre-Pregnancy Diet to learn more about dietary choices that support both your personal wellbeing as well as your fertility plans.

Once your body and hormones have a chance to get in balance, pay attention to ovulation and timing sex for pregnancy. If you try consistently for six- to 12-months (depending on your age), without success, it may be time to contact the Fertility Center of Dallas to schedule an appointment. Call us today at 214-823-2692.

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