Many women who are obese and with BMI of 30 or higher want to conceive but they are concerned about the possible risks. There are various multiple complications that can happen to obese pregnant women, such as heightened blood pressure and insulin levels. In fact, obese women tend to have reduced fertility in the first place. Excess weight increases the production of androgens or male hormones, including testosterone. This will inhibit the ovulation. The hormonal disorder caused by obesity may also cause PCOS or polycystic ovary syndrome. It’s a common cause of infertility and irregular periods. We may treat this condition by making appropriate lifestyle changes, such as reducing the amount of calories intake and perform regular exercises to normalize our weight. Studies show that an obese woman who has regular menstrual cycle will still have 50 percent less chance of conceiving compared to normal weight woman. Male obesity may also contribute in causing infertility, due to lower testosterone level, increased scrotum temperature and issues with sperm production.
Obese men tend to have lower sperm quality and quantity compared to those with normal weight. In obese women much fewer viable eggs are retrieved in the IVF process and they often have lower quality. There are often problems associated with embryo transfer, resulting in lower implantation rates. It means that even with IVF, the success rate of having a child is still lower if both men and women are obese. Once a pregnancy does occur, a variety of problems may happen, including GDM or gestational diabetes mellitus. It’s an onset of diabetes that happens during the pregnancy period. Although GDM often disappears after mothers are successful with their childbirth, there will be in increase risk of Type 2 Diabetes. Harmful effects may also happen to babies if the gestational diabetes is poorly controlled, leading to jaundice, respiratory problems, predisposition to obesity and premature Type 2 diabetes. Preeclampsia could also happen to pregnant women and it’s indicated by high blood pressure. When the condition is untreated, internal organs, especially the kidneys can be damaged. In more serious cases, life threatening complications may happen to both the baby and the mother. The best treatment for preeclampsia is the successful childbirth itself, which will automatically lower the blood pressure.
Preeclampsia may cause various problems on babies, such as blindness, acidosis, deafness, cerebral palsy, learning disorders, epilepsy, stillbirth and neonatal deaths. There are also greater chances of surgical complications during caesarean section delivery and miscarriage. Obesity isn’t the only weight problems that can cause fertility issues. Underweight women weight BMI 18.5 or lower may also have hormonal imbalance. They often have irregular menstrual cycle and due to the low level of estrogen, their ovulation process can be impaired. The solution should be quite simple, that it is to get more healthy fat and with this simple step alone, there’s no need for hormonal therapy. Also, underweight men tend to have impaired fertility, which could cause reduced sperm quality and lower sperm counts; compared to men with normal weight.