Most people associate infertility with a problem in the reproductive system. In reality, there are many health and lifestyle factors that have a direct impact on your ability to conceive. Excess weight, in particular, can reduce fertility by disrupting hormone balance and normal menstruation. It is important to understand how your diet choices affect your fertility and how you can change your eating and exercise habits to increase your chances of getting pregnant.
How Weight Effects Fertility
Most women who are a little overweight or underweight may not have trouble getting pregnant. However, if your BMI is far outside the ‘normal’ range, you may experience weight-related fertility. The reason behind this infertility is often linked with hormones.
More than 30 percent of the estrogen in your body is produced by your fat cells. If you are at a healthy weight, you are likely producing a healthy amount of estrogen. If you are overweight, you could be producing too much estrogen. Excess estrogen can delay ovulation or prevent your body from ovulating at all. Even if you experience normal periods, you could still have difficulty getting pregnant.
The good news is that your extra weight is not a permanent fixture. Studies have shown that even a 5 to 10 percent change in body weight can have a positive impact on fertility and menstruation.
Ideal Weight for Conception
While it’s not necessary to achieve your ‘dream body’ before getting pregnant, it can be helpful to ease towards a healthy BMI. The ideal weight is not too low and not too high which gives a woman the highest chance of ovulation and conception.
Generally, you want to have a target BMI of between 18.5 and 24.9 kg/m2. Remember that being overweight or underweight doesn’t just affect fertility. It can also impact egg quality, cause poor embryo development, and increase your risk of miscarriage.
Diet Modifications and Fertility
Research has shown that when compared to fertile women, women with infertility issues had certain abnormalities in their dietary habits. Certain diagnoses like nutrient deficiencies are fairly common in obese women. However, most types of diet problems can be remedied through a change in eating habits and possibly nutritional counseling.
Nearly all women can benefit from visiting a dietician to evaluate where they can make improvements in their diet. It can also be beneficial to look at how changes in exercise can improve fertility. Exercise is recommended for all women, including during pre-conception and pregnancy. However, too much exercise can actually decrease fertility.
While weight is certainly not the only factor to consider when dealing with unexplained fertility, weight-improvement interventions have been found to increase spontaneous pregnancy rates. It is also important to remember that losing weight is not just good for you pre-conception, but will also positively impact your long-term health.
Couples may consider making dietary changes together pre-conception. Unhealthy lifestyle choices can diminish male fertility. Therefore, eating healthy and exercising regularly can benefit both individuals. In addition, practicing good eating and exercising habits as a couple is an amazing way to grow your bond as you empower one another.
Where to Reach Out for Help
If you have been trying to get pregnant for more than one year without success, consider working with a care team to explore your fertility options. With help, you can better identify any forces that may be impacting your fertility, such as stress or anxiety. You can also learn to make healthier choices for yourself and your future child.