You've been so good. You've given up coffee, said no to wine, refused to take a cold remedy. You're doing everything you can to get pregnant. But there's one more thing you can do to tip the scales in your favour.
According to Dr. Dean Van Vugt of Queen's University in Kingston, "Whether too heavy or too thin, women don't appreciate how their weight can affect their fertility." He also says both chronic high-calorie and low-calorie diets can have an impact on a person's ability to conceive.
While this may seem initially discouraging to some, think about it. You have a tool at your disposal that can immediately help you improve your chances of becoming pregnant: your diet. By eating healthy, well-balanced meals, you can single-handedly improve your odds of having a baby.
Overweight women have a higher percentage of body fat, and because fat cells produce estrogen, many overweight women have abnormally high levels of estrogen. This frequently disrupts ovulation and menstruation. When women are underweight, their body does not produce enough estrogen. This can interfere with ovulation and may lead to a woman's period stopping completely. Being overweight or underweight makes it difficult for the body to regulate its natural menstrual cycle, making it challenging for these women to become pregnant.
Your doctor or fertility specialist can help you determine your body mass index (BMI) and see if you are at a healthy weight. The BMI is a measure of weight in relation to height. When your BMI is below 18.5 or above 25, your ability to conceive becomes affected. Even a weight loss of about 10% for an overweight person may considerably improve ovulation and increase their odds of becoming pregnant. A healthier weight would also help reduce the pressure that pregnancy places on the uterus as it expands. One of the greatest concerns an overweight pregnant woman faces is the increased risk of miscarriage. Weight loss could decrease this risk and may also prevent other health issues like diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.
People who are underweight also face an increased risk of miscarriage. If your BMI is below 18.5, a nutritious diet is the best remedy to help restore fertility. Together, you and your doctor can plan a diet rich in nutrients that will help your body regain the balance it needs to encourage regular menstrual cycles. Once regular menstrual cycles are restored, the lining of the uterus becomes more able to support a pregnancy, reducing the chance of miscarriage, as the egg now has a healthy uterine lining to implant and grow in.
How you weigh in really can affect your fertility. Help is as close as your next doctor or fertility specialist appointment. To prepare, go to the Fertility Doctor Discussion Guide, where you'll find questions especially useful for your appointment. You can also calculate your BMI using our BMI calculator.
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