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Overweight or Underweight: Is Your Body Weight Affecting Your Fertility?

Overweight or Underweight: Is Your Body Weight Affecting Your Fertility?

Overweight or Underweight: Is Your Body Weight Affecting Your Fertility?

An unhealthy body weight may prevent you from having a baby. 12% of all infertility cases are a result of women either weighing too little or too much. The main reason why body weight can impact fertility is because of estrogen, a sex hormone that is produced in fat cells. If a woman is overweight and has too much body fat, the body produces increased levels of estrogen, which acts like birth control! Don’t get too excited skinny mini, a woman with too little body fat can’t produce enough estrogen, which shuts down your reproductive cycle. First thing first, who’s to say you’re under or over weight? We want to celebrate all bodies in all of the beautiful shapes and sizes they come in. We also want to give you the best chance of getting pregnant and becoming the amazing mother you’re destine to be. The best way to know if your fertility is being compromised due to your weight is by using the most common measures used by doctors and health researchers today, the Body Mass Index or BMI. BMI is just a simple calculation of your weight in kilograms dived by your height in meters squared. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has a helpful BMI calculator that will do the calculation for you. A ‘healthy’ or normal BMI is between 18.5-24.9. A BMI of 18.5 or under is considered underweight, a BMI of 25-29.9 is considered overweight, and a BMI of 30 or greater is considered obese. Now that we have that covered, let’s talk about exactly how weight affects fertility. We can’t stress enough how important it is to maintain a healthy body weight. It’s long been documented that being overweight can cause serious health problems like hypertension, cholesterol, and diabetes, but it can also have an impact on your fertility, especially if you are significantly over weight. If you are overweight and trying or planning on getting pregnant over the next few years, it might be time to make some lifestyle changes. Dropping even a few pounds can make a huge difference in successful pregnancy. Obesity has been shown to cause infertility by creating hormonal imbalances and problems with ovulation. This is especially true for women who are obese and trying for their first child. One condition associated with obesity and infertility is Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, more commonly referred to as PCOS. PCOS can be quite complex to diagnose because there are a wide variety of potential symptoms and no two women have exactly the same ones. With PCOS, ovulation may be prevented or stopped completely, making it difficult for a woman to conceive. Many woman with PCOS go on to conceive naturally, but for those that are overweight with PCOS it’s important to remember that even a 5% drop in weight can improve fertility. But, it’s not just about losing weight in order to conceive; obese mothers have higher risks of complications during pregnancy. Risks include hypertension, pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, infections, blood clots, and possibly the need for early labor induction. In addition, babies born to overweight or obese mothers are more likely to become overweight or obese themselves later in life, which can lead to them having more health problems in the future. Now you may be thinking, ‘what about women who are underweight?” They too can have problems conceiving. Being underweight can also cause hormonal imbalances that affect ovulation and therefore may make it more difficult for a woman to get pregnant. These hormonal changes can shorten a woman’s luteal phase during her menstrual cycle, making time between periods shorter, which may mean she is not ovulating at all. This affect is also very common in athletes who do strenuous exercise on a daily basis. Because of the high muscle to low fat ratio, a BMI calculation may not be the most accurate measure. If you find that you’re an athlete who is missing periods and you’re trying to get pregnant, most doctors will recommend you to scale back on exercising so your body can get back to its regular cycle and boost fertility. Once you have calculated your BMI and determined your healthy weight, there are many things that can be done to help improve your fertility. The goal is to be in the sweet spot of a BMI between 18.5 and 24.9, here is where your body is at its baby-making prime. If you’re normal weight, then keep doing what you’re doing. Keep up the workouts you’ve been doing and keep on eating healthfully. If you’re underweight, up your calories per day by adding in an extra meal or a couple of healthy snacks like whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and lean proteins. This will help get you up to a healthy BMI over time. If you’re overweight or obese, cut back on calories from food and slowly up your exercise to help you reach your ideal BMI. Aim for about 60 minutes of moderate exercise three times a week, walking on a treadmill for example, is a great place to start. Remember to make a gradual change and not crash diet to lose weight, this could also be detrimental to fertility. Eating a healthy diet and exercising are important and should be encouraged for women trying to conceive. You want to be in the optimal baby making sweet spot of 18.5-24.9 BMI. You can get there by taking control of your diet and taking control of your activity level. If you’re concerned about when and how to start, consult your physician who can help point you toward resources like a nutritionist or gym class. As always, we hope this article has given you some helpful information. Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or to learn more.

We will do our best to keep you updated on any advancements in the world of reproductive health and together we can help women take charge of their fertility.

Top 5 things you can do to preserve your fertility now

Top 5 things you can do to preserve your fertility now

1. Smoking is so passé

I know I know you don’t really smoke or you’re trying to quit… get to it lady! I promise you’ll feel much better once you put that dart down. This also goes for social smoking; no one looks cute with a haze of smoke coming out of your mouth from deep down in your lungs, especially in a cocktail dress! Apart from all the negative effects smoking has on your general health it’s also awful for your baby maker. Side effects include:
  • Higher infertility rates
  • It takes longer to conceive if you’re puffing away
  • Harmful to your ovaries
  • Accelerates your already decreasing number of eggs
  • Effects the quality of your eggs

Not only does smoking age your pretty face it ages your whole reproductive system! Sadly the powers that be haven’t come up with a Botox for your ovaries. But if they do I’ll be sure to let you know.

 

2. Control your weight

Control your love for all things sugar, processed, fried, high in saturated fats.. basically anything that tastes amazing, just kidding! There are loads of delicious and healthy options, which I will happily share with you. Eating a healthy diet and maintaining a healthy weight can do wonders for your reproductive system. 12% of all infertility cases are a direct result of a woman either weighing to little or too much. You’re probably thinking, “How in the world does this tasty treat effect my fertility?” The answer, estrogen. Estrogen is a sex hormone produced in fat cells. In short, too much body fat produces too much estrogen, which acts as a form of birth control, limiting your chances of getting pregnant. Don’t get too excited skinny! A woman with too little body fat can’t produce enough estrogen and as a result her reproductive cycle starts to shut down. Neither are desirable and both under and overweight women have irregular cycles effecting ovulation and fertility.

3. Lets Talk About Sex!

The majority of us won’t be virgins when we get married… shocker, I know! It turns out only 3% of Americans wait until marriage. On average American women have 4 sexual partners while men have 7. I can’t stress this enough ladies - Wrap It Up! Sexually transmitted infections can affect your fertility in the future. Infections such as chlamydia or gonorrhea can cause pelvic infections and lead to infertility by damaging the fallopian tubes, which can lead to ectopic pregnancies.

4. De-stress & take some Me time

Many of us lead very busy and at times stressful lives. It’s for this reason we all need to remind ourselves to take a moment to de-stress. It’s widely accepted that stress can have a negative impact on our overall health. Many leading fertility specialists attribute stress to being the cause of unexplained infertility. I’ve added a few activities I like to do to help me unwind. Let me know what works for you!
  • Any physical activity (I personally love running)
  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Hanging out with my loved ones and friends
  • Laughing
  • Writing
  • Pampering: nails, hair, message - take your pick

5. How hormonal are you?

One of the best ways to figure out how Fertile Mertile you are is to test you anti-mullerian hormone (AMH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) levels. These two hormones are tested through blood samples and can give you a good indication of your ovarian reserve. This will give you a better idea of what you can continue to do to preserve your fertility. As a side note, vitamin D seems to have a positive effect on AMH levels, which is becoming the leading marker to measure ovarian reserve. So make sure you’re taking at least 1,000 IU of vitamin D to improve those levels.

The Truth About Endometriosis & Your Fertility

The Truth About Endometriosis & Your Fertility

Endometriosis, is a women’s health issue that has been getting a lot of press recently from celebrities speaking openly about their struggles with the disease. Celebrities from Padma Lakshmi and Tia Mowry to Lena Dunham have all shared their experiences. Even so, there remains a lot of myths and misconceptions circling around endometriosis – and its connection to fertility. Given our dedication to women’s health we wanted to take a minute to share the 411 with you.

What is endometriosis?

Endometriosis is a disorder in which the tissue that normally lines the uterus – endometrium tissue – spreads, and grows outside of the uterus where it shouldn’t be. Most commonly, this tissue spreads to nearby areas like the ovaries, bowel, or pelvis. Endometrial tissue may also spread to other areas of the body, but this is very rare.

During each menstrual cycle, this tissue continues to act as it would if it was in the uterus (where it should be)– it thickens, breaks down, and bleeds. However, since this tissue lies outside the uterus, it has no exit, so it becomes trapped. This can irritate the surrounding tissue causing scarring and pain, sometimes very severe.

How common is endometriosis?

Endometriosis is the most common gynecological disorder, affecting between 2 and 10 percent of women in the US. It can be a particularly debilitating condition for some women that causes them to miss work and other important life events, while others may experience little to no symptoms.

What are the causes and symptoms?

The exact causes of endometriosis are still unknown. However, the most widely accepted theory suggests that during a women’s period, endometrial tissue breaks up and rather than exiting as it should, it reverses and travels backward, up through the fallopian tubes attaching itself to other areas and growing there.

Some women may experience no symptoms at all, but many women do. The most common symptoms are; pain that feels like intense menstrual cramping, pain during sex, abnormal or heavy periods, fatigue, infertility, and gastrointestinal issues like diarrhea or nausea.

Can endometriosis affect fertility?

The American Society for Reproductive Medicine estimates that 24 to 50 percent of women who experience infertility have endometriosis. As such, it is considered one of the top 3 causes of female infertility. In many cases, infertility may be only temporary as laparoscopic surgery can be done to remove any cysts or scar tissue, thus restoring fertility. These cysts and/or scar tissue are thought to prevent the ovary from releasing an egg, or impair the implantation of a fertilized egg. Permanent infertility due to endometriosis affects only a very small percentage of women, and most women go on to have a child if they choose.

How is endometriosis treated?

Treatment for endometriosis varies on a patient to patient bases. When determining a treatment plan your physician will take into consideration your symptoms, overall health, disease severity, and desire for pregnancy in the future. For mild cases, physicians may suggest “watchful waiting” or OTC pain medications like ibuprofen. In some cases, birth control pills or hormone therapy may be used to reduce symptom severity. Surgical treatments may also be used, laparoscopy for example, a minor surgical procedure also used to help confirm an endometriosis diagnosis.

Endometriosis misconceptions.

Unfortunately, since little is understood about the causes of endometriosis, and women can experience very different symptoms, many misconceptions have come up surrounding this disease. For many years, doctors choked up endometriosis to women just being hysterical or mentally ill – which is completely untrue as we now know today. This left women unable to finish their education, maintain a career, or have a stable relationship. Even though much more is known today, women still struggle in receiving a timely diagnosis.

Endometriosis is a real disease, with real symptoms, and it’s important to know what to look for. Firstly, severe period pain that knocks you down and prevents you from doing daily activities, is not normal, and it’s not “all in your head” as previously thought by physicians. If pain is interfering with your life, see a gynecologist.

Second, endometriosis doesn’t discriminate by age. Even teenagers and young women may suffer from the disease. As the disease progresses, symptoms may become more severe by age. Thirdly, endometriosis does not equal infertility. Many women with endometriosis go on to have children if they choose to. Treatment can help with this, and even without treatment, many women with endometriosis will go on to conceive naturally.

As always, we hope this article has given you some helpful information. Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or to learn more.

We will do our best to keep you updated on any advancement in the world of reproductive health and together we can help women take charge of their fertility.