Is Being Overweight Damaging Your Chances of Conceiving?

Published: 22nd November 2018

The proportion of women in the UK who are overweight or obese is at an all-time high. We know excess weight is linked to many adverse health conditions, but are you aware of the damaging effects your weight could be having on your fertility?

A woman’s ability to have a baby depends on many factors. However, this process usually begins with a healthy menstrual cycle – controlled by chemicals in the body called hormones. Your body produces these hormones, but when disrupted, it can often lead to difficulties in becoming pregnant.

A healthy fertility rate is usually the result of a healthy hormonal balance. Concerningly, overweight women have been found to produce higher levels of a hormone called leptin, which is produced in the fatty areas of the body. This hormone is important in weight loss for so many reasons, but when linked with fertility, raised leptin levels can send your hormones into chaos, ultimately leading to problems conceiving.

As well as hormonal issues, being overweight may also increase the pressure your body places on your ovaries, increasing the risk of irregular menstrual cycles. Women with a BMI above 27 are three times more likely than women in a healthy weight range to be unable to conceive because their body cannot ovulate or ovulates too infrequently.

Although many women who carry excess weight do still ovulate, it appears the quality of the eggs they produce are reduced, sometimes resulting in chemical pregnancies and early miscarriage. Evidence suggests that each unit of BMI above 29 minimises the chance of achieving pregnancy within 12 months by about 4 per cent.

To put it simply, this means that for a woman with a BMI of 35, the likelihood of getting pregnant within a year is 26 per cent lower, and for a woman with a BMI of 40 – it is 43 per cent lower compared with women with a healthy BMI.

While the facts about obesity and fertility can certainly seem daunting, there is some good news too. Successful weight loss can promote menstrual cycle regularity and improve the chance of pregnancy. Studies have shown that in obese women, with even a modest weight loss of 5-10 per cent of their body weight, fertility improves and so then does their chances of conceiving.

The Bodyline Clinic can help you improve your chances of getting pregnant by helping you to lose weight in a safe and controlled manner. Our range of weight loss medications are clinically proven to assist in successful weight loss when used in conjunction with a calorie-controlled diet.

Our experts have already written a blog on how the Saxenda®  weight loss injection can help improve Leptin resistance and repair metabolic damage.

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