The simple answer is YES. Weight can.
Being overweight or underweight can affect getting pregnant. So, it’s a good idea to manage your weight.
Find out why right here.
Weight and Hormones
Basically, it’s all about the hormones. The hormones needed in the right balance for a healthy and regular cycle and for ovulation.
If we’re overweight or underweight, there is a risk that we don’t have balanced hormones and we start to see signs of haywire hormones, including cycle problems and trouble falling pregnant.
Weight and Fertility – Overweight
Some studies show that women who are overweight are more likely to suffer fertility issues. The more overweight, the increased risk of fertility issues, generally.
The key reason is that women who are overweight tend to have more fat cells than those who are not. Fat cells produce oestrogen., Sounds weird. But fat cells produce oestrogen, as well as our ovaries.
With fat cells producing oestrogen, overweight women are at more risk of oestrogen dominance (I wrote a whole blog on that). Oestrogen dominance can result in too high oestrogen in relation to progesterone and that can affect periods, ovulation and fertility.
Some studies also show that being overweight can affect the outcomes of fertility treatment, which is why clinics and doctors sometimes ask women to reduce their BMI before starting treatment. It’s believed it will increase the chances of successful treatment.
Weight and Fertility – Underweight
And being underweight can also be a problem.
That’s because underweight women tend to have low body fat.
We need a certain percentage of body fat for hormone balance and ovulation. Our bodies “think” there are not enough fat stores for pregnancy, so we have issues conceiving and higher risk of miscarriage.
It’s not only the underweight who need to be mindful – you can be average or above average weight but have low body fat e.g females athletes or other women who exercise a lot. Low body fat and high muscle can cause periods to become erratic or even stop.
BMI is one measure of weight and health, but it doesn’t show you the fat/muscle make-up of your body. You need a different gizmo for that. Many gyms have them or ask your doctor.
It’s generally accepted that underweight is BMI lower than 20. Normal is 20-15. Overweight is 25-30. Obese is 30-40 and morbidly obese is over 40.
So what should you do if you’re under or overweight and trying for a baby?
Here are some top tips:-
Weigh and Fertility – Tips for Managing Weight
#1 It’s best not to go on a slimming diet when you’re trying to conceive. It’s better to lose the weight and then actively try to fall pregnant.
Because slimming diets – especially strict ones – can cause periods to become irregular and ovulation to stop because hormone levels drop.
Of course, a healthy weight and healthy eating can rebalance any issues.
#2 Wait until about 3 month AFTER losing weight to start trying to fall pregnant, if you can.
As a precaution, only. It’s possible nutrient levels – including fertility friendly nutrients- might be low after a slimming diet. Make sure you boost nutrient levels if you’ve been on a restrictive diet. I use hair mineral tests to help see if couples have deficiencies and then work out what foods and supplements they may need.
#3 No crazy fad diets, please.
Again, you risk depleting nutrients, including the ones needed for fertility and healthy pregnancy and baby.
It’s better to lose weight through a balanced, healthy diet. That includes healthy fats. It doesn’t include “diet” or lite products. The basics of a fertility friendly diet will serve you well to lose weight. And 1-2lbs a week is a good, steady weight loss.
And remember the aim is to lose weight to become a healthy weight, not slim as much as you possibly can. Losing a small amount of weight can make a positive difference.
#4 To gain weight, don’t start binge eating crud food.
Don’t start binge eating biscuits, shovelling crisps or snarfing fries!
Basically, they are not fertility-friendly foods.
It’s better to eat more healthy calorie-dense foods like nuts and avocado and increase your number of healthy snacks.
#5 Balance blood sugar.
This is a top tip for EVERYONE’S health and fertility.
Balance blood sugar, energy, moods and hormones why eating good quality protein with every meal and snack. It’ll make you feel better and reduce the chances of you reaching for a slab of cake or vat of coffee.
Eat little and often for the same reasons.
#6 To lose or gain weight, think CROWDING IN.
Losing or gaining weight is not always easy. I know that. And it can sometimes be daunting.
So start with a simple idea – crowding in what you do want to crowd out what you don’t want.
So if – for example – you’re trying to cut down on sugar. Think crowding in more protein (see point 5) and soon you’ll be eating more protein, feel fuller and be eating less sugar.
Give it a go and see how it works for you.
#7 Check out your partner’s (guy’s) weight.
Because being overweight can affect male fertility too. Being overweight has been linked to poor sperm quantity and quality.
So weight can affect chances of getting pregnant – that’s women and men. Of course, it doesn’t always.
It’s a case of giving yourself the best chances you can of natural conception, healthy pregnancy and happy and healthy baby, through some good diet and lifestyle choices.
OR boosting your IVF success chances.
It’s taking control of the fertility factors you can influence.