Trouble conceiving can cause emotional stress and upset for both parties. There are various reasons why a woman may have trouble with fertility, one issue being her weight.
There is an obesity epidemic in the UK; 64% of adults are now classified as being overweight or obese, with rates only predicted to increase.
Along with health complications including increased risks of coronary heart disease, certain types of cancer and type 2 diabetes, obesity significantly impacts upon women's fertility and ability to conceive.
More than a quarter of women in the UK are obese, with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or over *, which is a common problem amongst women of reproductive age.
For these women, they are often less fertile due to their weight and/or have polycystic ovaries syndrome (PCOS) which influences fertility, the release of eggs, hormonal changes, sexual activity and libido. Obesity does not cause PCOS but exacerbates it, making it more difficult to get pregnant.
If you are overweight and have decided to start trying for a baby then there are things that you should do and do need to think about before trying to conceive. Of course it's not impossible to get pregnant while overweight, it definitely helps to get as healthy as you can.
There are real risks that you need to consider which would apply to you and your baby if you do get pregnancy while severely overweight.
If you haven't heard of Preeclampsia then this is a serious condition which could put you both at risk. High blood pressure and protein in the urine are signs of preeclampsia. High blood pressure in pregnancy doesn't indicate that you have preeclampsia but it could be a sign of another issue.
Preeclampsia affects up to 5-10% of pregnancies and there are groups who are higher risk.
If you are seriously overweight during a pregnancy then you have a higher possibility of developing gestational diabetes.
Gestational diabetes develops during pregnancy and it will most likely disappear after birth. This is high blood sugar and it can occur at any stage in pregnancy but it would usually be in the second half of pregnancy.
When your body isn't producing enough insulin then this affects the control of the blood sugar. There are certain nutritional needs you will need during pregnancy and this will be affected by gestational diabetes.
This can be managed during pregnancy and there is advice available on the steps to take.
There are a number of possible medical problems if you are overweight during pregnancy.
Women are considered underweight when they have a BMI less than 20 whereas overweight women have BMIs of 25 – 29.9. A BMI of 30 or up is considered to be obese.
If you are obese and overweight, did you know that you may only need to loose 5% of your body weight to trigger ovulation? You would need to look to loose more weight than this to be able to reduce the risks of the other complications.
It is a good idea to start loosing weight and get in to shape now as when you are pregnant you will not be able to diet so easily. It is important that the baby is getting the nutrition and nourishment they need and if you are loosing weight then this will cause a problem.
Negative impacts of obesity on fertility and pregnancy include: problems with natural conception, miscarriage, long term health problems of both the mother and baby due to increased rate of birth defects, pregnancy complications and the possibility of disease later in life**.
A new report, published by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, has found that weight-loss surgery is often beneficial to overweight women wishing to become pregnant but who are having trouble in doing so.
While weight-loss surgery has proved hugely successful for both men and women, for women it can alleviate symptoms of PCOS and reduce pregnancy complications including risk of miscarriage, gestational diabetes, hypertension, macrosomia (large baby) and congenital abnormalities.
As with any patient, male or female, opting for a weight-loss procedure, there must be evidence of attempts to lose weight through a healthy, calorie-controlled diet and increased exercise. Weight-loss surgery should therefore not be looked upon as the only way to improve fertility but as an option.
It is vitally important for women to start their pregnancy in optimal health, at a healthy weight and to maintain this during and after their pregnancy. Weight loss surgery is far from an easy option. But we also know that losing weight through diet and exercise doesn't work for everyone.
By Professor David Kerrigan
Visiting Professor in Surgery at the University of Chester and founder/CEO of Phoenix Health, Professor Kerrigan is among the elite of UK bariatric surgeons.
Widely respected by both the public and his surgical peers for his technical skill and commitment to uncompromisingly high standards of bariatric care and aftercare, Professor Kerrigan was a pioneer of laparoscopic (keyhole) bariatric surgery in the UK and has lectured widely on this subject both here and abroad. His work has been featured in numerous television, radio and newspaper reports. He operates on both NHS and private patients.
About Phoenix Health
Founded and led by doctors, Phoenix
Health is a highly specialised and exclusive provider of weight loss surgery in both the NHS and private sectors. Its pioneering world-class team has helped train many of the bariatric surgeons currently practicing in the UK.
Phoenix Health has partnerships with major NHS teaching hospitals together with leading private hospital providers in the UK and Ireland, including KIMS Hospital in Maidstone and the Ulster Independent Clinic in Belfast.
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