Whether you’ve looked forward to pregnancy since you were a girl or you’ve just decided that you’re ready to start a biological family, it can come as a shock when you don’t conceive right away. Other women seem to get pregnant easily, but you’re not having the same kind of luck.
If you struggle with infertility (i.e., failure to conceive after one year of trying if you’re a female under 35 or six months if you’re over 35), weight may be the reason. The healthier you are, the easier it is to conceive.
Being underweight and being overweight puts stress on your body that may change your hormonal balance and prevent you from conceiving. However, being overweight poses extra challenges to fertility.
At Florida Woman Care of Jacksonville, our skilled and caring OB/GYNs — Daniel McDyer, MD, FACOG, and Julian Stephen Suhrer, MD, — guide you through conception, an uncomplicated pregnancy, and successful delivery. Whenever possible, they advise you to attain a healthy body mass index (BMI) to increase the chance of conceiving.
Fat cells influence your body
Like all tissue, fat tissue is composed of living cells. Fat cells are called adipocytes. Fatty tissue releases bioactive molecules, such as adipokines, that increase your risk for:
- Insulin resistance
- Cardiovascular disease
- Problems with eggs
When you’re overweight, it’s also more difficult for an embryo to implant in your uterus. You’re at increased risk for miscarriage and less likely to conceive with assisted reproductive technology (ART).
Being overweight may be a sign of PCOS
Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a common condition for women in their reproductive years. If you have PCOS, you may have irregular periods that make it difficult to time intercourse and increase your chances of conception.
You may not mature or release eggs or do so only rarely. When you have PCOS, you have too much of an androgen (i.e., “Male” hormone) called testosterone and too little of “female” hormones such as estrogen and progesterone.
In addition to causing infertility, PCOS may also contribute to your weight gain. It could also cause you to lose scalp hair, break out in acne, and have excess facial hair.
The extra weight affects your pregnancy
Although being overweight may make it more difficult to conceive, about 25% of pregnant women in the United States are obese. That alone is proof that you can become pregnant despite extra fat and the hormone disruption it may cause. (Of course, those statistics don’t account for fertility treatments those women may have undergone.)
Once you do become pregnant, however, your weight affects how easy and healthy a journey it is for you and your baby. Obesity significantly raises your risk for pregnancy complications, such as:
- Gestational diabetes
- Fetal growth abnormalities
- Premature delivery
You’re also more likely to need a cesarean (C) section or even an emergency C-section. After a successful delivery, your child is also more likely to develop juvenile obesity or type 2 diabetes. In addition, you should take more than the usual 400 mcg of folic acid prenatally to minimize the risk of neural tube defects in your baby.
Losing weight reverses effects
Losing just 5% of your excess body weight can positively affect your PCOS and help to balance your hormones. Similarly, lowering your BMI by just 1-2 points reduces your risk of complications during pregnancy.
If you’ve had trouble achieving and maintaining a healthy weight, we help custom-design a program that makes it easier for you. This time, you’re losing the weight for two.
Increase your chances of pregnancy by contacting our supportive team today in Jacksonville, Florida. Call our friendly office staff or use our convenient appointment form online.