How Weight Impacts IVF

It is a universal fact that maintaining a normal, healthy body composition is important to fertility, since being overly obese or overly thin can adversely affect a woman’s chances of getting pregnant. Women or couples with difficulty conceiving may decide to attempt a cycle of in-vitro fertilization, which may be complicated by health issues such as being overweight. A healthy body-mass index (BMI) and IVF success are positively correlated; thus maintaining a normal BMI can only increase your chances at success during the first cycle of IVF.

Body mass index is calculated by taking your weight in kilograms and dividing it by your height squared in meters. A normal BMI should fall between 18.5 and 24.9 kg/sqm.

Women who are obese need significantly larger doses of injections for superovulation to occur. Their egg production is also much lower as compared to women whose BMI is normal. This leads to a reduced chance of pregnancy. More importantly, there is a greater risk of miscarriage for obese women as compared to women whose BMI falls within the normal range.

Women who are underweight also tend to produce fewer eggs than their normal counterparts. They too have an elevated risk of miscarriage, according to several studies comparing reproductive success between women of varying BMI.

Before even starting a cycle of in-vitro fertilization, it is important for the prospective patient to bring her body weight to an optimum level. This can be achieved by proper diet, exercise, and feasible lifestyle modifications. Any change in the right direction (i.e. toward achieving a normal body composition) can decrease infertility. In the Philippines, this is often associated with eating healthier non-processed and nutritious food, quitting smoking, or eliminating alcohol intake.

Exercise can also make weight management easier, regardless of whether your BMI is lower or higher than normal. Getting enough exercise has beneficial effects on mood, reducing stress, and improving blood circulation. Women who are underweight can make similar lifestyle changes as obese women, and expect similar progress. Many women find that committing to an IVF cycle provides enough motivation for optimizing their body weight.

It is important to be careful about weight management, since rapid change in your weight can affect your IVF cycles adversely. If your weight or BMI is outside the normal range, it is important to plan these changes carefully and to do it gradually and slowly. Follow a sensible diet plan and exercise without doing strenuous activities. Avoid following any fad diets or any practices that require you to starve yourself. Proper nutrition and a healthy lifestyle make a very successful combination for optimal reproductive success.