Patient Resources

Weight and Fertility

When it comes to fertility in women, weight plays a huge role in being able to conceive. In fact, according to the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), twelve percent of all infertility cases are a result of a woman either weighing too little or too much. If a woman has too much body fat, the body produces too much estrogen and begins to react as if it is on birth control, limiting her odds of getting pregnant. A woman with too little body fat can’t produce enough estrogen and her reproductive cycle begins to shut down. NCCRM infertility center Cary is here to break down the impact of a woman being overweight or underweight, and the impact that her hormones have on her fertility since fat cells and bodyweight play such an important role in reproductive hormone production.

Being Overweight

Fat cells store sex hormones like estrogen and testosterone. Estrogen in females helps develop and maintain both the reproductive system and female characteristics, such as breasts and pubic hair. Testosterone is an androgen, which is a “male” sex hormone that plays a role in reproduction, growth, and maintenance of a healthy body. If you have excess fat cells, you’ll also have excess storage of these hormones. Fat cells also produce some sex hormones. For example, young girls who are overweight tend to go through puberty much younger than thinner girls – the connection between fat cells and estrogen hormone production is why.

Being Underweight

Teenage and adult women who are underweight or are super athletic will not have a healthy level of fat cells from a reproductive standpoint. Because of this, their fat cells produce 2-hydroxyestrone, which is an anti-estrogen, causing the reproductive system to shut down. This is why athletes and other underweight women may stop menstruating altogether, their cycles may be irregular, or they may not ovulate.

Impact of Hormones

Since the female reproductive system works on a feedback loop, when hormones reach a certain level, other hormones are adjusted accordingly. In overweight or obese women, the excess estrogen levels eventually lead the reproductive system to shut down. Even in cases when the levels aren’t high enough to cause complete termination of menstruation, the abnormally high estrogen levels can still negatively impact a woman’s fertility.

NCCRM Infertility Center Cary

Being overweight or underweight can lead to problems with ovulating, and if a woman does not ovulate, she won’t be able to get pregnant. Don’t assume that the only reason you can’t conceive is because you are overweight or underweight – it may be more complicated than that. If you or a loved one have been trying to conceive without success for one year, or for six months if you’re 35 years or older, contact NCCRM infertility center Cary today to schedule a consultation.

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