Yes it can. With an obesity epidemic that seems to be out of control in this country, its effects can reach far beyond heart health and blood pressure as many women struggle with their weight and their ability to conceive and carry a baby to term. Studies estimate that one in four women are considered obese and this single risk factor can lower fertility and increase the risk of pregnancy-related complications.
Why does my weight make it hard to get pregnant?
In short, it has everything to do with hormones. High body fat percentages can alter the way reproductive hormones are produced and absorbed in the body and can change the normal rhythm of the menstrual cycle, the maturation of eggs for fertilization, and reduce your chances of getting pregnant and carrying that baby to term without complications. Women who are overweight tend to have higher levels of male hormones (androgens), insulin levels, and some growth factors–all of which play a role in fertility.
Overweight women who have a body mass index (BMI) of 24 to 31 showed a 30% increase in infertility from anovulation–meaning their ovaries were not releasing an egg for fertilization–than women of a normal weight. Women with a BMI higher than 31 saw a 170% increase in anovulation related infertility. That’s serious.
Thankfully, many women discover that even a small drop in body weight can significantly increase their fertility. Losing just 5% of your body weight may be enough to help those hormones-gone-wrong find their way back on track and you will increase your chance of conception.
If I’m overweight will my pregnancy be harder?
Yes, it can be. Women who are overweight have higher rates of pregnancy related complications including high blood pressure, preeclampsia, or eclampsia–a condition that causes maternal seizures. These moms also experience higher rates of gestational diabetes, larger than average babies at delivery (which brings complications like higher C-section rates or birth injuries) and blood clots.
Now I can ramble on and on about the risks and hope you’ll take it seriously–but I know it’s a lot and and trying to lose weight and worry about getting pregnant can feel like a mountain you just aren’t ready to climb. But let me reassure you: every change you can make can raise the chance that you not only get pregnant but come through those days without a single problem. Losing 2o, 25, or 30 pounds can be a significant change for your body. If you’re ready to find out more about how you can lose weight and raise your chances of conception, come see Dr. Hessel for an evaluation. She’ll work with you and help provide you with tools and techniques to help you get on the fast track to healthy.