Many underweight, overweight, or obese women have no problem getting pregnant. But others will have troubles conceiving, most often due to ovulation problems.
A BMI of 18.5 or less (underweight) often causes irregular menstrual cycles and may cause ovulation to stop altogether.
A BMI in the obese range may also lead to irregular menstrual cycles. However, even obese women with normal ovulation cycles have lower pregnancy rates than "normal" weight women.
Being overweight, obese or underweight can affect fertility
Obesity can lower fertility in men
You have a greater chance of getting pregnant if you are closer to a BMI of 20-25
A small weight loss of 10% body weight can improve fertility & pregnancy health
Being underweight & fertility
Being underweight (BMI under 18.5) can reduce a woman’s fertility by causing hormone imbalances that affect ovulation and the chance of getting pregnant.
Compared to women in the "healthy" BMI range, women who are underweight are more likely to take more than a year to get pregnant.
If you are underweight and trying to conceive, we recommend that you talk to a dietitian, who can work with you to change your diet.
Why do you need to lose the extra weight?
Losing weight might be something you don’t want to think about, or consider important. However we now know that your weight can influence your fertility very significantly in many different ways. If you have been diagnosed with conditions like PCOS, or "unexplained infertility", weight loss is often a huge push in the right direction.
The link between excess weight & fertility in women
Overweight women often experience disturbances to ovulation and metabolic changes which affect fertility.
25% of ovulatory-related infertility is attributed to being overweight.
There is good evidence that
Obesity lowers the success rates of in vitro fertilization (IVF)
Obese women are at an increased risk for developing gestational diabetes and pre-eclampsia
Obese women have a higher chance of delivering by c- section
Children of obese mothers are at increased risk of some birth defects and having a high birth weight.
Men are affected too
Obesity lowers sperm counts by 50%
Obesity increases the fragmentation of DNA in sperm
Men who are overweight are more likely to suffer erectile dysfunction
Obesity in men may be associated with changes in testosterone levels and other hormones important for reproduction.
The good news is that a very slight weight loss will increase your chance of getting pregnant significantly.
One third of infertile couples will conceive naturally simply by losing just 5 – 10% of their body weight.
No matter how much weight you think you need to lose, or would like to lose, start with the first 10 pounds. You should never attempt to lose more than this in a month.
A fertility nutrition protocol for sustainable weight loss
At taproot, we believe nutrition is key to all around health and food will always be addressed as part of a fertility program. Here are some key points, that will be customized to your particular body type, dietary restrictions etc.
Choose whole foods, organic vegetables & fruits in season, eat the rainbow
Drink a LOT of water, room temperature or warm, never iced
Take time to enjoy your food sitting down & away from screens
Have 3 meals a day. No second servings. You might consider limiting the eating window to emulate "intermittent fasting" or "time restricted eating"
Pack up protein for breakfast: either lean meat, chicken, fish, tofu or eggs and include lentils or beans
Stop all sodas and juices, even diet ones
Stop all processed foods like cookies, white breads, ramen
Limit carbohydrates, favor complex carbs like beans and veggies
Cut out deep fried foods
Acupuncture for weight loss
Acupuncture can address a slow metabolism and control appetite to help you
feel less bloated
regulate constipation or diarrhea
eliminate excess water
help you sleep better (you can't lose weight if you don't sleep well)
Some conditions like PCOS make it a lot harder to control your weight, and acupuncture & herbal medicine are really helpful in these cases
And move your body !
No matter where you are in your
women's health, fertility, pregnancy & mothering journey,
if you need support, we can help.
In addition to our own team of fertility & women's health acupuncturists, we are well-connected within the Los Angeles- Pasadena area community to help you
find the right integrative and holistic care for you.
If you have more questions please call our front desk, at 626-841-2991, or email us.