When it comes to obesity, you’ve read all about the dangers. You know about increased risk for heart disease, diabetes, back and joint problems, and many other conditions.
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But here’s one you may not know: Excess weight can hurt your chances of becoming pregnant. Obesity has a number of different effects on your fertility—as well as your partner’s.
1. Obesity affects your hormones
When your body mass index goes past the overweight category (BMI of 25–29.9) into the obese category (BMI of 30 and above), hormonal changes may occur in your body. When your levels of natural hormones change, your chances of conception decrease.
2. Obesity leads to insulin resistance
The hormonal imbalance that comes with obesity often leads to insulin resistance. That is a major risk factor on the road to diabetes — but it also affects your fertility and can create abnormal menstrual cycles. Insulin resistance can lead to anovulation, in which your body does not produce eggs properly.
3. Obesity affects natural and assisted pregnancies
Obesity makes it more challenging to become pregnant, no matter whether you’re using natural means or by reproductive technologies such as in vitro fertilization (IVF). It also increases your risk for a miscarriage. This issue may be caused by the hormonal issues noted above or because of your body producing poor quality eggs.
4. Obesity decreases your partner’s fertility, too
Although much of the focus on obesity and infertility is on women, it absolutely affects men, too. For men, obesity leads to a drop in testosterone, which can lead to infertility. On top of that, erectile dysfunction occurs at a higher rate among obese men.
5. Losing weight can improve all of the above
If the issues above seem daunting, don’t fret — you and your partner can improve your chances of success by losing weight. As you lose weight, the hormonal imbalances and other effects of obesity begin to decrease. If you need help with a weight-loss plan, talk to your doctor. But you can get started on a healthy path by incorporating positive lifestyle changes such as regular exercise, reduced portion sizes and healthier food choices.