Being too heavy or too thin can both affect fertility
The tie between weight and infertility is not a new one. It goes back all the way to Adam Smith, who wrote in The Wealth of Nations that poor, slender women of certain communities had trouble conceiving, while richer women with a better diet conceived more easily. Modern fertility experts today agree that there is some connection.
According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), obesity accounts for about 6 percent of primary infertility, and that low body weight accounts for an additional 6 percent of primary infertility. So more than one in ten cases of infertility may be due to weight.
But many women of a healthy weight will still struggle to conceive, as there are a host of potential causes for infertility. Ovulatory dysfunction, meaning that the menstrual cycle is not happening regularly, often plays a role in infertility, and fertility specialists will often test for this dysfunction.
Hormone imbalance and hormone disorders are another potential cause. Uterine fibroids, cancer treatment, and testicular trauma in males are just a few more things on the long list of conditions that may affect fertility.
If you are 35 and have not become pregnant even after unprotected intercourse for more than six months, weight may be a factor to consider. But it may be wise to have a complete round of testing from an infertility specialist, as he or she can show you the broadest picture of what may be happening with your reproductive system. Also, since males are often the cause of lack of conception, it is important that they are tested as well.
Why does weight affect fertility?
In obese women, infertility often relates to problems with ovulation. However, there may be other contributing factors. Sex steroid hormones are stored in body fat, and complex interactions between these hormones, due to abnormal body weight, can also affect fertility.
And being overweight is just a danger for those trying to conceive. Getting to a healthy weight is important to keep chronic illness at bay, and to maintain many other aspects of wellbeing. Add fertility to the long list of reasons to eat good nutrition and exercise regularly.