As American waistlines continue to expand, research shows that increasing obesity could cut some couples’ fertility in half, leading ultimately to a population decline, says one expert in fertility and obesity.
According to Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, 66 percent of all adults in the US are overweight or obese. More than 75 percent of all adults in the US are projected to be overweight or obese by 2015.
Those extra pounds come with a cost, especially when it comes to having a child.
While it’s long-been known that obesity has some effect on fertility, overweight women face other little-known, but major risks,” says Dr. Alex Polotsky of University of Colorado Advanced Reproductive Medicine, author of “Obesity and Female Fertility” (Endocrine News, June 2012).
According to the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology (Dec 2010), women who are obese face a 120-percent increase in difficulties with conception/infertility, a 67-percent increase in miscarriage, and a 124-percent increase in some birth defects.
According to Polotsky, an expert on obesity and fertility, the problem is compounded by overweight male partners. Men who are obese have a 42-percent higher chance of having very low sperm and more than an 80 percent chance of having no sperm as compared to men of normal weight man.
“If you put these factors together, obese couples have up to two-fold losses in fertility compared to normal-weight partners,” said Polotsky.
That means more and more Americans are struggling to have babies.
Researchers are getting closer to understanding the specific things that go wrong in the reproductive system of obese women, but there are still no easy answers, Polotsky said. Losing weight doesn’t always fix the problem.
Research shows even if a woman loses weight, she may not be able to have a complete return of normal reproductive function.
Still every pound that is lost helps. “Maintaining a healthy weight is a good basis for anyone trying to conceive,” Polotsky said. “Overweight couples who want to conceive should seek help sooner, rather than later, even if everything else appears to be normal.”