Weight and Infertility – How Maintaining a Health Weight Can Help Conception
In many cases, infertility occurs because of factors beyond a patient’s control. Issues such as physical abnormalities, hormonal imbalances, ovulation dysfunction and low sperm count can all impact a couple’s ability to conceive. At Innovative Fertility Center, Dr. Mark Rispler has the expertise to diagnose and treat common causes of infertility.Though you may not be able to change certain infertility risk factors, achieving and maintaining a healthy weight can maximize your chances of conceiving.
Understanding basic female biology
When the female reproductive system functions properly, a woman’s body will prepare for pregnancy each month. During the early part of the cycle, estrogen rises to thicken the uterine lining, and an egg in one of the ovaries begins to mature. Around day 14, the egg is released during ovulation. Pregnancy occurs when sperm fertilizes the egg and it attaches to the uterine wall to begin development.
How weight impact the odds of conception
If you are under or overweight, the regular menstrual cycle may be disrupted. Without ovulation, no egg is released for fertilization. Women who are underweight may experience amenorrhea, or lack of a menstrual period. Carrying extra weight may indicate an issue such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), a health condition that often causes small cysts on the ovaries, high levels of male hormones and irregular or missed periods.
Weight can also affect sperm quality
Earlier this year, a study published in the scientific journal Human Reproduction showed that men who consumed high levels of saturated fat had lower semen counts and concentrations. Conducted at Massachusetts General Hospital Fertility Center in Boston, the research compared the diets of almost 100 men. The individuals who consumed the highest amount of saturated fats had 43 percent fewer sperm and 38 percent lower sperm concentration than those with the lowest dietary fat intakes.
Using body mass index as a guide to healthy weight
Ideally, men should have 18 to 25 percent body fat and women should fall into the range of 25 to 31 percent body fat. One way to determine where you are is through body mass index (BMI), which is calculated based on height and weight. A healthy BMI falls between 18 and 25.
To estimate your BMI:
• Multiply your weight in pounds by 703
• Divide that number by your height (in inches)
• Divide that number again by your height (in inches)
Small changes can make a big difference for your weight
Dr. Rispler encourages our patients and their partners to take the necessary steps towards a healthy lifestyle so that they have the best odds of getting pregnant. Losing even 5 to 10 percent of your body weight can improve the likelihood of conceiving.
Consider the following tips to losing weight for conception:
• Avoid trans fat as much as possible
• Add regular exercise to your schedule two to three times a week
• Drink plenty of water
• Eat a balanced diet rich in lean protein, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables
• Talk with your doctor about other steps to lose weight
If you have tried to get pregnant without success, contact our Manhattan Beach fertility center for more information about male and female infertility. Dr. Rispler is a board certified reproductive endocrinologist and specializes in advanced fertility treatment.