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Effects of Obesity on Fertility, Pregnancy, and Birth

Effects of Obesity on Pregnancy

Being overweight or obese causes hormonal imbalances in women which in turn negatively affects their ovulation and menstrual cycle. Obesity is one of the main causes of menstrual irregularities and sometimes may even be the reason for complete absence of ovulation. Obese women face great difficulty in conceiving and most of them turn to fertility treatments. However, the bigger problem is that obesity does not let them respond well to fertility treatments.

A . How Is Weight Related To Fertility?

-Fat cells produce a hormone called estrogen. Estrogen is required for normal ovulation.

-If one is obese then the estrogen released is too high. This results in inadequate ovulation or no ovulation at all.

-Being overweight or obese also increases the risk of -Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome(PCOS). Usually characterized as a hormonal imbalance, PCOS occurs due to excessive release of androgens.

-Due to excess of androgens, there is a deregulation which leads to disturbed menstruation or complete absence of menstruation along with problems with ovulation. All these factors lead to problems in conceiving.

B . What Affect Does Obesity Have On Pregnancy And Childbirth?

The most worrisome fact is that even when an overweight or obese woman conceives, the pregnancy is quite high- risk both for the mother as well as for the child.

Risk To The Mother

The most common problems associated with pregnancy in obese women are :

1 . Increased Risk Of Miscarriages

Obese women are at high risk of losing their pregnancies due to hormonal imbalance of two hormones- Testosterone and Luetinizing Hormone. Obese women who have conceived with assisted reproductive techniques have even higher likelihood of miscarriages.

2 . Pre-eclampsia

It is a condition of high blood pressure which develops in pregnant women especially who are obese. It also affects the kidneys and is characterized by secretion of protein in the urine. It also causes swelling in hands, face and legs.

3 . Gestational Diabetes

Due to obesity, the insulin responses are deranged during pregnancy which causes high blood glucose levels in women leading to diabetes. If left undiagnosed and untreated, it increases the chances of women developing diabetes after the birth. Furthermore, it increases the chances of the baby being large which can cause complications and difficulty at the time of birth. It can also lead to jaundice and low blood sugar in the baby. In severe cases, it may cause seizures and still birth.

4 . Need For Cesarean Section

Normal delivery in obese women may be very challenging due to the large size of the woman and the baby both. Most women have to undergo Cesarean sections which can also cause many complications such as risk of infections, bleeding

Risk To The Baby

Obesity during pregnancy can negatively affect the baby in many ways:

1 . High Birth Weight

Obese women have high likelihood of giving birth to large babies that have higher than normal birth weight. Not only is it challenging for the mother to give birth to a large baby, researches document that these infants have high chances of suffering from childhood obesity which exposes them to the risk of developing various lifestyle diseases later on.

2 . Birth Defects

Evidence based data suggests that obese women give birth to babies with birth defects commonly associated with heart, brain, spinal cord, limbs and gastrointestinal system.

3 . Risk Of Stillbirth

The more obese the women, the higher the chances of still born babies.A stillbirth is a baby born dead after 24 completed weeks of pregnancy.

4 . Pre-term Birth

Obesity during pregnancy leads to conditions such as pre -clampsia which forces premature delivery. This in turn puts the babies at risk of developing short term and long term health problems.

5 . Chronic Diseases

Children born to obese women have more than double the chances of developing heart disease and diabetes when they grow up into adults.

C . How Should Women With Obesity Plan And Manage Their Pregnancy?

-If a woman is obese i.e. BMI is more than 27.5 kg/m2, the course of action before planning a baby should be to lose weight.

-Diet modifications and lifestyle changes in terms of following an exercise regime is crucial for weight loss. Seek professional help if you are unable to lose weight on your own.

-Obese women must get themselves evaluated by an endocrinologist and a gynecologist who may advise medications for treating diseases such as PCOS or for weight loss.

-Women who have a BMI more than 37.5 kg/m2 must consider weight loss / bariatric surgery as a treatment option before pregnancy. Post surgery, infertility issues and conditions like PCOS are resolved due to weight loss. It has also been documented that pregnancies after weight loss surgeries are low risk for both the mother and the baby.

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Bringing a new life to this world is the most satisfying and fulfilling experience for a woman. But, if you are obese, it is best to manage your weight before conception in order to avoid complications that can arise for both you as a mother and your baby. Always consult your gynecologist for a holistic examination before you plan your family! Stay Healthy! Stay Happy with 1mg!

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