There are many different factors that can impact the chance of success with IVF treatments. One of these factors is your weight. Those with a high body mass index (BMI) may face additional challenges or complications during these treatments.
Some countries have high obesity rates. In places like the United States and the UK, fertility specialists are more likely to pay attention to a women’s weight when evaluating whether or not IVF treatments are an option.
In fact, in the United Kingdom, women must maintain a healthy weight. A BMI between 19 and 30 is considered healthy. Unfortunately, nearly half a billion women have a BMI that exceeds this range.
If you are worried about whether your weight may disqualify you from seeking IVF treatments, you should learn more about your BMI.
What Is Your BMI?
Having a high or low BMI does not mean that you cannot get pregnant. Both overweight and underweight women regularly get pregnant. However, your BMI may still impact your fertility.
Your body mass index (BMI) provides an indicator of your overall body fat. Your weight and height are the two primary factors that determine BMI.
A BMI between 19 and 30 is considered ideal. If your BMI is higher, you are considered obese. A lower BMI means that you are underweight.
How is your BMI calculated? For this calculation, you use kilograms for your weight and meters for your height. Multiply your height by itself. Your weight is divided by this figure to determine your BMI.
For example, the average woman is about five feet and four inches (1.62 meters) and weighs about 168 pounds (76.2 kilograms). 1.62 times 1.62 equals 2.624. 76.2 divided by 2.624 equals 29.03.
A BMI of 29 is at the upper limits of the “healthy” range. At 110 pounds (50 kilograms) and the average height, a woman would have a BMI of 19.
Basically, if your height is average, your ideal weight is between 110 and 168 pounds. However, many doctors agree that these figures do not directly indicate whether you are healthy.
It is important to point out that BMI does not include other health factors. Your muscle mass, gender, and age are not part of the BMI calculation.
Using the calculations described, a lot of athletes could be considered overweight or underweight. An athlete with a lot of muscle mass is likely to weigh more, which results in a higher BMI.
When you get older, you may also lose bone density. The loss of bone density may result in a lower weight, resulting in a lower BMI.
Due to the limitations of the BMI calculation, reliable fertility clinics do not consider BMI when determining whether or not a patient is a suitable candidate for IVF.
In fact, research helps back up this opinion. A study of 1293 patients undergoing IVF treatments found no connection between BMI and the success of the treatments.
How Does Weight Affect Fertility?
BMI should not be used for determining the health of a patient. However, your weight can still affect your fertility.
Research shows that underweight women may not receive enough nutrients. Their lack of nutrition may cause their bodies to stop ovulating, and if they do ovulate, they may not produce as many healthy eggs, which directly impacts fertility.
Overweight women may also experience issues that make them less likely to get pregnant. Obesity may result in changes to healthy insulin levels. These changes may cause the ovaries to prevent the release of eggs.
The issues described may make it more difficult to get pregnant through natural conception. Luckily, these issues can be addressed through IVF treatments.
Keep in mind that it is possible for women that are underweight or overweight to experience normal ovulation and conceive naturally.
Age Plays a Bigger Role in Your Fertility
While weight is a concern when it comes to fertility, age may play a bigger role than weight. As you age, the number of healthy eggs may decrease.
When you reach your thirties, your body begins to experience changes that affect ovulation. You may produce fewer eggs. Some of the eggs that you produce may not be healthy enough for fertilization. These fertility issues can also be addressed through IVF treatment.
Suggestions for Improving Your Health
Everyone should be concerned about their weight. Age is also a concern when it comes to fertility. However, women of all sizes and ages can still seek fertility solutions, including IVF.
Instead of focusing solely on your weight or age, you should consider focusing on your overall health. With a few changes to your lifestyle, you can increase your chances of a successful IVF treatment.
Eating a balanced diet and performing moderate exercise are goals that can benefit anyone, whether you want to get pregnant or not.
You may not need to drastically change your eating habits. You can start small. Begin by eating more healthy foods such as avocados, seeds, and nuts. These foods contain beneficial fats that may help correct hormonal imbalances.
You should also try to include a wide variety of foods in your daily meals. Incorporate more vegetables and fruits into your diet and cut back on processed foods. Processed foods tend to contain a lot of sugar, which can increase the risk of diabetes and obesity.
Moderate exercise is also recommended. While you do not need to start a strict exercise routine, you should try to perform moderate exercise several times per week. Cardiovascular exercises such as swimming, cycling, and jogging can help reduce some of the risk factors for obesity.
Yoga is also a recommended form of exercise. Along with offering gentle exercise, yoga can help improve blood circulation and reduce your stress levels, which can have a positive impact on your fertility.
Last Thoughts on Weight and Fertility
The bottom line is that your BMI can impact your fertility. However, being overweight or underweight does not disqualify you from using IVF.
Your fertility specialists can work with you to come up with an effective treatment plan. You can receive additional suggestions based on your specific health factors.
Instead of making any sudden changes to your lifestyle, wait until you speak to a specialist. Whether you are underweight or overweight, skilled fertility experts can assess your health and provide the most effective IVF treatments.