According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), 12% of all cases of primary infertility are caused by a very simple, inexpensive, and easily fixed problem. It’s a problem that is often overlooked, and not taken into consideration until every other test and procedure has been exhausted. What is it?
ASRM states that 6% of infertility cases are due to overweight, while another 6% in women at least are, surprisingly, due to underweight. Sadly, they report that although 70% of women whose weight causes them to be infertile will spontaneously conceive once the issue is corrected, weight is usually the last issue to be addressed as the possible cause of infertility. “It may be ignored entirely,” they say, “until other diagnostic studies and therapeutic interventions have proven normal or futile.”
What does weight have to do with fertility?
Put simply, it changes the levels of hormones in the body. Testosterone, the principal male hormone, present in both men and women, and estradiol, the principal female hormone, are both fat-soluble. As we become overweight these fat soluble hormones get stored in our body fat. In addition, fat cells contain an enzyme called aromatase that converts testosterone to estrogen. Abdominal fat has often been referred to as a third ovary due to the amount hormones stored in over weight people. All of this conspires to both affect the part of the brain which regulates ovarian and testicular function, altering fertility, and result in an overabundance of some hormones.
When weight issues, whether over or under, are addressed, hormone levels may return to normal and in many cases regular ovulation resumes and spontaneous conception occurs.
What does this mean?
For those suffering from fertility issues or even planning to conceive, achieving and maintaining a healthy weight is important. A holistic approach including proper diet and exercise, supplements, and even acupuncture can be helpful for those seeking to either lose or gain weight. Professional consultation can aid in creating the ideal individualized program that best supports your individual needs.