How to Get Pregnant If You Are Fat

Overweight woman walking outdoors
A woman taking a walk on a nature path. (Image: esolla/iStock/Getty Images)

Being overweight affects your chances of getting pregnant. A study reported by Barbara Luke of Michigan State University looked at pregnancy rates in 50,000 women undergoing assisted reproductive technology procedures. The study showed that women with a body mass index (BMI) of over 40, compared to the normal BMI of 18.5 to 24.9, were 35 percent less likely to become pregnant. Being overweight doesn’t mean you can’t get pregnant, but it does mean it might be more difficult than it would be otherwise.

Step 1

Lose weight first. Even small weight loss may increase your chances of getting pregnant. Crash diets aren’t the way to do this, since they may create other physical problems. A study reported in 2007 in a Human Reproduction article written by Jan Willem van der Steeg of the Department of Public Health at University Medical Centre Rotterdam, in the Netherlands, found an approximate 5 percent decrease in fertility for every BMI point over 29. Lowering your weight even by 5 to 10 lbs. can improve fertility.

Step 2

Monitor your menstrual cycles and try to conceive on your own. If you’re under age 30 and getting regular periods, try to get pregnant on your own for six months, according to the American Pregnancy Association. Monitoring ovulation with LH kits, temperature monitoring and mucus testing help determine that you’re ovulating. Time sex so that you have relations several days before ovulation and on the day of ovulation. This is easier if you pinpoint ovulation. If you’re periods are irregular, don’t wait; see a fertility specialist right away.

Step 3

Visit a fertility specialist if you haven’t gotten pregnant after six months of trying. Blood work and diagnostic testing may find problems that need to be corrected to increase the chances of getting pregnant.

Step 4

Test for polycystic ovarian syndrome. Women who are overweight and having trouble getting pregnant are more likely to have PCOS, a disease characterized by high male hormone levels and abnormal insulin response. Women with PCOS may be excessively hairy, overweight and may not ovulate without intervention. Medications that help the body use insulin properly may be given to correct insulin imbalance (see Resources).

Step 5

Take medications as ordered by your doctor. One of the first medications doctors use to regulate menstrual cycles so ovulation is more likely to occur is Clomid. Clomid is an oral anti-estrogen, which means it works against the effects of estrogen. One way fat interferes with ovulation is that extra fat creates extra estrogen, according to GYNOB.com. While that may sound like a good thing, it’s not. When your body thinks estrogen levels are already high, it doesn't mature any egg-containing ovarian follicles. According to the Advanced Fertility Center of Chicago, the ovary begins to mature a follicle in response to low estrogen levels.

Tip

Stay positive. Up to 25 percent of women in North America are obese, and many still get pregnant.

Warning

If your periods aren't regular, don't wait before seeing a gynecologist or fertility specialist. If you're not ovulating, it's not possible to get pregnant.

REFERENCES & RESOURCES
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