Weight, BMI and Fertility: All You Need To Know

Written by

Arva Health Team

03-Jun-2024

Woman sitting inside hourglass, contemplating time passing by
Woman sitting inside hourglass, contemplating time passing by
Woman sitting inside hourglass, contemplating time passing by

Weight, BMI & Fertility: What’s the connection?

Achieving conception may not always be straightforward, and various factors can influence fertility.

One such factor that plays a significant role in reproductive health is weight and body mass index (BMI).

And weight just happens to be one of the most crucial yet often overlooked aspects.

Let’s delve into the intricate relationship between weight, BMI, and fertility, exploring how maintaining a healthy weight can optimise your chances of conceiving successfully.

Read on!

Understanding the weight-fertility connection

Weight significantly impacts both male and female fertility. Maintaining a healthy weight within the normal BMI range (18.5-24.9 kg/m²) is ideal for optimal reproductive health. Let's explore how weight can influence fertility in each gender:

Impact of weight on men's fertility

When it comes to male fertility, weight plays a significant role in determining reproductive health. For men, obesity can negatively impact sperm quality and quantity. Excess body fat disrupts hormone production, leading to:

  1. Reduced sperm quality and quantity: Studies suggest a link between obesity and lower sperm concentration, abnormal sperm morphology, and decreased sperm count. These factors can significantly hinder fertilisation.

  2. Decreased sperm motility: Sperm motility refers to the ability of sperm to swim effectively towards the egg for fertilisation. In obese men, sperm motility may be compromised, leading to decreased chances of sperm reaching and fertilizing the egg.

  3. Hormonal Imbalances: Excess body fat can disrupt hormone production and regulation in men, leading to hormonal imbalances such as elevated estrogen levels and decreased testosterone levels. These hormonal changes can negatively impact sperm production and quality, further impairing fertility.

On the other hand, being underweight can also affect male fertility due to:

  1. Decreased testosterone levels: Low body weight and inadequate nutrition can lead to decreased testosterone levels in men, affecting sperm production and overall reproductive function. Testosterone plays a crucial role in sperm production and maturation, and low levels may impair fertility.

  2. Reduced sperm production: Underweight men may experience a decrease in sperm production, resulting in lower sperm count and reduced fertility. Inadequate nutrition and low body weight can disrupt the normal functioning of the reproductive system, leading to impaired sperm production.

Understanding and addressing weight-related issues in men is essential for optimizing fertility and improving reproductive outcomes.

Effect of weight on women's fertility

Weight also plays a critical role in female fertility, affecting various aspects of reproductive health. Both obesity and low body weight can have detrimental effects on women's fertility:

  1. Disruption of menstrual cycles: Obesity and low body weight can disrupt the normal functioning of the menstrual cycle, leading to irregular periods or amenorrhea (absence of menstruation). Hormonal imbalances associated with excess body fat or inadequate nutrition can interfere with ovulation, affecting menstrual regularity.

  2. Impaired ovulation: Obesity and low body weight are associated with ovulatory dysfunction, resulting in anovulation or irregular ovulation. Ovulatory dysfunction is a common cause of infertility in women and can significantly reduce the chances of conceiving naturally.

  3. Hormonal Imbalances: Obesity is often associated with conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and insulin resistance, which can disrupt hormone production and regulation. Women with PCOS may experience irregular periods, ovarian cysts, and hormonal imbalances, leading to fertility issues.

Actionable tips for weight management when trying to conceive

Whether you're trying to conceive naturally or undergoing fertility treatments, maintaining a healthy weight and BMI can improve your chances of conception. Here are some actionable steps to consider:

  1. Assess your weight and BMI: Calculate your BMI using an online calculator or consult with a healthcare provider to determine if your weight falls within a healthy range.

  2. Adopt a balanced diet: Focus on consuming a nutrient-rich diet that includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and healthy fats. Limit processed foods, sugary snacks, and excessive caffeine intake.

  3. Engage in regular physical activity: Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week. Incorporate activities you enjoy, such as walking, jogging, swimming, or yoga, to maintain a healthy weight and reduce stress.

  4. Monitor your portions: Pay attention to portion sizes and avoid overeating. Practice mindful eating by listening to your body's hunger and fullness cues.

  5. Seek professional guidance: If you're struggling to achieve or maintain a healthy weight, consider seeking guidance from a registered dietitian, nutritionist, or healthcare provider who can offer personalized recommendations and support.

Arva’s take on weight and fertility

Trying to conceive while managing weight can feel overwhelming. There can be several reasons for weight gain, from PCOS to stressful eating.

But here’s the thing: There’s always help, and you don't have to go it alone.

We built Arva as a foundation for offering personalised guidance and supports you in your journey to conception. Here's how Arva empowers you:

  • Understanding the weight-fertility connection: Our comprehensive library of articles and resources provides evidence-based information on nutrition, trying to conceive, weight management, nutrition, and its impact on fertility. This empowers you to make informed choices about your lifestyle and health.

  • Achieving a healthy weight for fertility: Arva connects you with a network of experienced doctors and registered dietitian who specialise in weight management for fertility. They can create a personalised plan that addresses your weight concerns while optimising your reproductive health.

  • Tracking your progress: Our at-home fertility tests provide valuable insights into your hormone levels, which can be influenced by weight. This ongoing monitoring allows you and your healthcare providers to track progress and adjust your plan as needed.

Remember, a healthy weight is just one piece of the puzzle.

Arva is here to support you on every step of your fertility journey, from understanding your individual needs to connecting you with the right specialists.

You’ve got this❤️

FAQs

1. Does being overweight or obese affect my chances of getting pregnant?

Yes, excess body weight can disrupt hormonal balance, interfere with ovulation, and reduce egg quality in women. In men, obesity is linked to decreased sperm quality and motility, as well as hormonal imbalances, all of which can impair fertility.


2. What is the ideal BMI for fertility?

While there's no single "ideal" BMI, maintaining a healthy weight within the normal BMI range (18.5-24.9 kg/m²) is generally recommended for optimal reproductive health. Individual factors like age, genetics, and overall health also play a role.


3. Can losing or gaining weight improve fertility?

Yes, achieving a healthy weight through lifestyle changes like diet and exercise can significantly improve fertility outcomes. Weight loss can restore hormonal balance, improve ovulation, and increase conception chances for overweight or obese individuals. Similarly, gaining weight to reach a healthy BMI can enhance fertility in underweight men and women.


4. How long does it take to see improvements in fertility after weight loss or gain?

The timeframe varies depending on individual factors like starting BMI, age, underlying health conditions, and the extent of lifestyle changes. Some may see improvements within a few months, while for others,

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Fertility care, reimagined for India—on your timeline.

This site is for informational purposes only and not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you're looking for medical advice, we suggest talking with a qualified physician.

55, 4th A Main, 5th Block, Koramangala, Bangalore, 560095

© 2023 Arva Health

Fertility care, reimagined for India—on your timeline.

This site is for informational purposes only and not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you're looking for medical advice, we suggest talking with a qualified physician.

55, 4th A Main, 5th Block, Koramangala, Bangalore, 560095

© 2023 Arva Health

Fertility care, reimagined for India—on your timeline.

This site is for informational purposes only and not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you're looking for medical advice, we suggest talking with a qualified physician.

55, 4th A Main, 5th Block, Koramangala, Bangalore, 560095

© 2023 Arva Health