Infertility When You’re Plus-Sized

During the course of your fertility investigation, you invariably come across people who give you all kinds of unsolicited advice and warnings about pregnancy. If you’re a plus-sized woman, they may have said you should lose weight before you conceive. You were probably annoyed at their unwanted comments but you might have worried about your weight anyway. While weight loss is one option for helping to improve your fertility, it is not the only one.

In fact, weight may not even be the issue for you as there are several disorders common to plus-sized women that can interfere with getting and maintaining a pregnancy. Ranging from issues like polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and hypothyroidism to luteal phase defect and excess estrogen, these health conditions can be overcome with proper knowledge and guidance.

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
Polycystic ovarian syndrome, a major cause of infertility in America, is a condition of the endocrine system that causes cysts to grow on the ovaries. In order to be diagnosed with PCOS, a woman must have at least two of the following symptoms:

  • irregular menstruation
  • enlarged ovaries with cysts
  • excess androgen hormones

Due to increased levels of insulin in the blood, the ovaries release too much androgen and can cause excess facial hair growth, weight gain and infertility. Women with PCOS are at risk for developing diabetes and heart disease.

If you suspect that you may have this disorder, you should consult a physician who can discuss your treatment options. Your doctor may prescribe healthy eating habits and frequent exercise to decrease your insulin and androgen levels. Weight loss can help with this disorder, although you don’t necessarily need to lose a significant amount; just 5% of your body weight may be enough to become pregnant.

Unfortunately, weight loss can be exceptionally difficult for some women with PCOS. So, if this option doesn’t work for you, your fertility specialist can prescribe fertility drugs, such as clomid, to help induce ovulation.

Hypothyroidism is a type of thyroid disease and is characterized by inadequate hormone production of the thyroid gland. Because your metabolism is regulated by the thyroid gland, this condition commonly causes people to gain weight and have a hard time losing it. The disorder also causes your periods to become irregular and can prevent ovulation.

If you think you have hypothyroidism, you should go to a physician to get your thyroid checked for low hormone levels. With regular medication, your thyroid hormones can be restored to normal levels and functions. This should help to ease your symptoms and promote regular menstruation. If you are still infertile even after thyroid treatment, consult a fertility specialist to discuss further treatment options, such as IVF.

Luteal Phase Defect
Luteal Phase defect is a condition that disrupts a woman’s menstrual cycle and the development of the endometrium for pregnancy. During the second half of a woman’s menstrual cycle, progesterone is produced by the corpus luteum to thicken the endometrium. Luteal phase defect occurs when this process is disrupted for two or more days. If the luteal phase lasts too long or is not long enough, progesterone levels are disturbed resulting in abnormal menstruation.

In a pregnant woman, luteal phase defect could lead to a miscarriage. Women with this condition should pay a visit to their health care provider to have their hormone levels checked. This defect can be corrected through hormone replacement therapy and ovary stimulant drugs.

Excess Estrogen
Estrogen is a sex hormone that is mainly produced in women by the reproductive organs but also by other parts of the body, including the fat cells. Since estrogen is produced by fat cells, plus-sized women often have more estrogen in their systems than other women.

At normal levels, estrogen plays a lead role in many of the body’s functions. However, when too much estrogen is present in your system, it can throw your entire reproductive system out of whack and induce infertility. If you do get pregnant, the excess estrogen can increase your chances of having a miscarriage. However, weight is not the only reason for high estrogen levels.

Excess estrogen can be caused by a range of factors including eating a diet rich in synthetic estrogen from meats, milks and food in plastic containers. Other reasons for an excess of estrogen are hormone imbalances, conditions of the adrenal gland and fertility drugs.

If you suspect you have excess estrogen for any reason, you can go to your doctor to have your hormone levels checked. She may prescribe diet changes, exercise or medication to correct the problem of excess estrogen.


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