In the times of staying indoors, people are staying safe from several diseases, but how safe are they from lifestyle disorders? Distorted sleep patterns, increased screen time, and lack of work-life balance have consistent impacts on the diet. With food of all variety now easily accessible and exercise taking a backseat, obesity is silently on the rise.
Obesity or being overweight has a lot of implications including a low self-image as well. It is responsible for several comorbidities including diabetes, high blood pressure and a host of other diseases that have a fairly adverse impact on good health. While the ill-effects of obesity often revolve around these common conditions, what is important to understand is the fact that in young women, obesity is also known to deplete reproductive capabilities and come in the way of conceiving.
In this blog, we will explore the connection between unhealthy weight and the chances of getting pregnant.
The ideal weight for an individual is measured through BMI, or Body Mass Index, a calculation based on the proportion of height and weight. A BMI under 25 is considered healthy, while anything between 25-30 is classified as overweight. The instance of having a BMI of over 30 is when the person is categorized as obese.
As mentioned, there are several reasons why a person might be obese. Right from incorrect diet to poor sleep, even stress can make people to be obese. Several underlying health conditions in women including but not limited to Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, or PCOS, Hypothyroid can lead to unexplained weight gain, pushing their BMI beyond 30 and cause them to be obese.
As mentioned above, obesity does have a proven connection with difficulty in getting pregnant. Below are outlined ways in which this correlation happens.
1. Obesity directly translates to more fat cells. These fat cells not just alter a woman’s body shape, they also alter the hormonal balance in their body. Fat cells are known to release androgen, which is also released by your ovaries. While ovaries release the desired amount of this hormone, what these fat cells release will be an excess. This excess release of estrogen compared to the natural amounts will act as a natural contraceptive, almost as if a woman is on the birth control pill, making it difficult for the ovaries to ovulate. This absence of ovulation, or anovulation in medical terms can prevent a woman from conceiving.
2. A woman might still end up ovulating fairly regularly even when she is obese, but certain studies have found that obesity impacts the quality of eggs produced by a woman. This means that there can be problems in the process of conception even if menstruation and ovulation are happening regularly.
3. When a woman more centrally obese, or has fat concentration around the abdomen, she is could be insulin resistant. While that might have other health implications, it is known to have a significant impact on the sex hormones - androgen and estrogen - which could lead to changes in sex drive as well as irregular periods.
4. Obesity is also detrimental when couples are trying other Assisted Reproductive Techniques (ART) and IVF. When a woman is obese, the chances of these assisted methods are less likely to succeed compared to a woman whose BMI is well within range.
Overall, the ill-effects of obesity on a woman’s reproductive health are pretty significant. It’s best for a woman to keep a watch on her weight and if she is borderline obese, it’s best to consult with a gynecologist to track reproductive goals and the corresponding weight desired.
Frequent exercising, maintaining a healthy diet, drinking adequate amounts of water, and sleeping well are a few things a woman can try on her own to initiate a weight loss, but it is best to consult with a gynecologist to understand how obesity has impacted her body.
Once this is done, the gynecologist will be able to take an effective clinical approach to improve the woman’s reproductive health through a combination of medication and targeted weight loss to achieve conception.
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