The Effects of Obesity on Fertility & Pregnancy

Obese women may have difficulty becoming pregnant as obesity may affect ovulation and fertility by altering the normal hormonal patters that the ovaries need to function properly. It has also been shown that the risks of birth defects and adolescent obesity are increased in children born to women who were obese when pregnant.

Effects of Obesity on Fertility

Obesity affects fertility in several ways. Excess weight can alter hormonal production in the body, creating imbalances that can reduce the chances of getting pregnant. These imbalances can also alter ovulation patterns. Further, obesity can lead to type 2 diabetes which itself can cause problems with fertility. Obesity can cause or worsen polycystic ovary syndrome or PCOS, a condition where the ovaries are enlarged and contain many small cysts, often causing fertility problems.

Obesity can also interfere with the effectiveness of In Vitro Fertilization or IVF.

Risks of Pregnancy While Obese

A study published in the February 11, 2009 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association analyzed clinical data from previous studies and concluded that indeed there is a link to birth defects when the mother is overweight or obese. Birth defects included: Neural Tube Defects, Spina Bifida, Cardiovascular Problems and Cleft lip.1

While the risks of these birth defects were increased, their overall incidence is not widespread, so it is something to consider as obese women decide to conceive. Other data has shown that the risk of miscarriage increases with excess weight and obesity.

Studies have also shown that children born to women who have undergone successful weight loss surgery were less likely to be obese than siblings born pre-surgery. A 2006 study published in the journal PEDIATRICS compared 172 children… 113 born to obese mothers that had weight loss surgery to 45 similarly aged siblings that were born before surgery. The incidence of obesity in the post-surgical children was 52% lower and the incidence of severe obesity was over 45% lower than in pre-surgical births.2

When can you get pregnant after bariatric surgery?

If you undergo bariatric surgery, there are limitations on when you can safely get pregnant. Depending on the procedure and how long you take to heal, you may have to wait up to 18 months after surgery before trying to become pregnant. Because pregnancy puts a strain on the abdominal area including the stomach and digestive system, it is very important you do not get pregnant until your surgeon declares it safe to do so. For More information on when to get pregnant after weight loss surgery click the following link: Pregnancy After Weight Loss Surgery

Back To The Effects of Obesity

1Stothard KJ, Tennant PWG, Bell R, Rankin J. “Maternal Overweight and Obesity and the Risk of Congenital Anomalies A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis.” JAMA. 2009;301(6):636-650. doi:10.1001/jama.2009.113
2Kral J. G. et al. “Large maternal weight loss from obesity surgery prevents transmission of obesity to children who were followed for 2 to 18 years.” Pediatrics. 118(6), e1644–1649 (2006).
Advanced Surgical Associates is one of the first exclusively surgical groups practicing in Union County New Jersey. And that is just the first of many firsts for ASA. For over 40 years, we have pioneered breakthrough surgical patient care in North Jersey in both general and weight loss surgery. ASA also offers gastric bypass, gastric sleeve and gastric banding to those suffering from obesity in New Jersey.
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