Weight Loss for Fertility
Women struggling with infertility can often improve their odds of getting and staying pregnant by making nutritional and lifestyle changes, coupled with treatment from qualified health care practitioners. This is particularly true when a woman is moderately to significantly overweight. Although medical researchers have not arrived at a definitive conclusion, some research shows that even a small amount of weight loss can increase fertility. While being overweight is not by itself a cause of infertility, it can contribute to existing imbalances, as well as affect libido and sexual function.
For women, weight can affect ovulation. Fat cells store estrogen, and many women in our busy, stressful society already have an estrogen imbalance. When estrogen levels are too high, ovulation may be delayed or impaired. This can also contribute to issues with the luteal phase (the second half of the menstrual cycle).
Women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) may especially benefit from weight loss. This endocrine disorder commonly causes issues with ovulation. A 2016 study from the National Institute of Health tracked 187 women with PCOS who were all being treated with clomiphene (Clomid), a drug that induces ovulation. Women who received clomiphene alone had an ovulation rate of 44.7% and a live birth rate of 10.2%. In contrast, women who lost weight through diet and exercise, in addition to treatment with clomiphene, had an ovulation rate of 62% and a live birth rate of 25%.*
While it can be difficult to make the changes necessary to lose weight while also handling the stresses of infertility, even small amounts of weight loss can be beneficial. Some doctors believe that losing even 5% of body weight can restore normal ovulation and lessen the need for fertility medication. Losing moderate amounts of weight before pregnancy also reduces the chances of complications such as gestational diabetes and lowers the chances of C-section.
At TCRA, our women’s health professionals can help support you with acupuncture and Chinese herbal treatment. We also make personalized nutrition and lifestyle recommendations that can help you lose weight more easily and safely. Contact us today to learn more about how we can support you on your fertility journey.