There has long been talk about the link between weight and fertility, with GPs and specialists often suggesting women who are struggling to conceive lose weight to increase their chance of falling pregnant. Below we look at this topic a bit more in-depth.
Does Losing Weight Increase Fertility?
There is evidence that obesity can affect the regularity of menstrual cycles, which could make it harder to fall pregnant naturally, but even with regular cycles and charting ovulation,conception is not guaranteed. There are many factors that can influence fertility that are not related to weight, including health conditions such as endometriosis, thyroid problems or sexually transmitted infections, stress and lifestyle.
For couples requiring fertility assistance, the suggestion that they need to lose weight (which is in itself a time-consumingprocess and especially distressing to hear for older couples who feel time is not on their side) before being consideredsuitable for IVF can be discouraging.
Perimenopause and Fertility
For women aged 35 and upwards, the likelihood of conceivingnaturally may be reduced. Perimenopause, the years leading up to a woman’s final period, are known for irregular periods and anovulatory cycles (cycles where an egg is not released and therefore will not lead to pregnancy). This is also an age where it can be harder to maintain a healthy weight, leading to pressure on women who feel their body clock is ticking. For this reason, older women (who are more likely to require fertility assistance) sometimes struggle to find a clinic who will consider them for IVF.
Fat Positive Fertility
Many women are happy with their size and shape and don’t want to be pushed to lose weight in order to be considered suitable IVF candidates. Others feel they don’t have time to lose weight, especially if their BMI classes them as obese or morbidly obese. For some, they have tried to lose weight and can’t, either because of other health issues or because of the challenges of sticking to a healthy eating/exercise plan over an extended period of time.
Whatever the reason, women who are overweight will be keen to find a fat positive fertility clinic – an IVF clinic with no BMI limit. It can be a challenge to find a fertility clinic with no BMI limit, particularly for women with a BMI over 40, but there are specialist clinics who promote fat positive fertility, meaning weight and size doesn’t need to be an obstacle that couples wanting fertility assistance need to overcome.
If you are what doctors would perceive as overweight and, for whatever reason, are considering seeking fertility assistance, do not lose heart. Seek advice from a clinic without a BMI limit. A consultation with a specialist will be able to give you honest, appropriate advice tailored to your own specific situation. Fat positivity and body positivity in general is an empowering movement – remember that there are people on your side rooting for you to realise your dream of pregnancy and parenthood. Size and weight needn’t be a barrier.