Recent studies show that there is a link between being low weight and fertility. Body weight can affect hormonal health which, in turn, can affect normal ovulation. We know that being underweight or being overweight can be problematic for fertility. But how so?
What is the link between low weight and fertility?
- Women that don’t have enough body fat may not produce sufficient estrogen. Women with less than 17% body fat may not be able to ovulate every month.
- Researchers also found that doing regular exercise and being on a diet can affect fertility. Many women that exercise regularly have lower than normal BMI or insufficient fatty tissue. This can also lead to hormonal imbalance and infertility.
When being underweight is a cause for concern
Before linking being underweight and infertility, there are some things to consider. First of all, not all women that are thin are actually underweight. In some cultures, a large percent of women are naturally thin. This does not mean that they naturally have fertility issues. You should only worry if:
- You have an eating disorder. Some women who have body issues are affected by eating disorders. Worrying excessively about weight gain can have a negative impact on your overall health.
- You are over-exercising. Many women believe that daily exercise is good for health, which is true. However, over-exercising can lead to amenorrhea (absence of menstruation). It can also lead to low progesterone levels, making conception difficult. Exercising excessively can also disturb the activity of the leptin hormone, which can cause fertilisation problems.
- You go on yo-yo diets every now and then. Losing and gaining weight can have detrimental affects on your hormones. Your body will be confused and exhausted. There are also many other health risks associated with restrictive diets.
- You lose weight too much too quickly. This can lead to anovulation and thus, infertility. Your body needs enough nutrients in order to function properly. If you lose too much weight, your body will do extra work and consume more nutrients to replenish what’s lost. This can be very harmful for the reproductive system.
- You are too thin and you have irregular periods. This can be a signal that ovulation may be affected by your low BMI.
- You have been trying to conceive for more than 12 months. In this case, being underweight could be affecting your fertility.
What to do if you are concerned about weight and fertility?
Find out what you can do to help on the next page…