The Obesity-Infertility Connection
Infertility is a subject near and dear to my heart. I had that problem almost 20 years ago, when I started trying to have a baby at the old age of 37. That “problem” was solved at 42, and I’m happy to say, is now a college junior! In my case, fertility issues were an age thing, not a weight thing. However, I do understand first hand the pain and the emotional roller coaster of those trying to get pregnant. Medical/age issues aside, the biggest obstacle to fertility is obesity . . . and it’s not just a woman’s problem anymore.
The first group of organs impacted by excess body fat is the reproductive system.
For men, being overweight or obese most often leads to low sperm count, less fertile sperm and definitely a lower motility in the sperm, with greater difficulty penetrating the egg.
For women, too much body fat wreaks havoc with their hormones, resulting in no menstrual cycles, or multiple cycles in a month, or longer and more excessive cycles.
The longer men and women are obese, the more infertility issues they might have. When obese boys and girls grow into obese teenagers and then obese adults, chances are they’re going to have fertility issues. Obesity affects the pancreas and its ability to produce insulin and regulate one’s blood sugar. Almost all obese women are at the insulin resistant stage—pre-diabetic—and that affects their ovaries, causing PCOS (the #1 cause of infertility in women), leading to poor ovulation, no production of eggs or non-viable eggs.
Not only is an optimal hormonal environment necessary for conception, it is also necessary to carry a baby to term in a healthy, uneventful way. The heavier a woman is when she conceives, the more imbalanced her hormones become throughout gestation, the greater the risk of miscarriage. Additionally, compared with women of normal weight at the beginning stages of pregnancy, overweight and obese women have an increased risk of giving birth to a child with heart and neural tube defects (problems with how a baby’s brain and spinal cord develop).
Ladies, gentlemen . . . you MUST think ahead. Whether you’re engaged to be married and contemplating future children, or married and thinking about starting a family, or a single unattached man or woman who would like to be a parent one day, if you are overweight or obese, start getting yourself in shape NOW. Don’t wait. You’ll suffer heartache, I assure you. And, even if, let’s say you get lucky and do become pregnant despite your obesity, what then? Think you’ll carry to term without problems? Doubt it. Think you’ll raise slim kids being obese parents? Ain’t gonna happen. You’ll perpetuate it in your children, and they won’t thank you for it. Trust me. I hear it from them every single day.