Many couples are struggling to have children due to infertility caused by obesity. We know overweight can cause many serious health complications; however, it has also been found to impact fertility in both men and women negatively. In turn, it increases the demand for assisted reproductive procedures like IUI, IVF, ICSI etc., which help obese couples have a baby.

Fertility experts say that it is difficult to explain how obesity affects fertility levels in an individual. The reason for this is that there are a variety of factors contributing to infertility and obesity.

However, our leading fertility doctors in Hyderabad at Matrusri Hospital have summarised some ways in which obesity can negatively impact infertility in both men and women.

How obesity affects the fertility of women?

There are studies that indicate obesity increases the risk of pregnancy complications in obese women compared to women who are normal weight. Though they are able to become pregnant, they are at risk of miscarriage. This is because of the changes in certain hormonal functions that are crucial to reproduction.

In general, there needs to be a balance in hormone production and their functions to maintain a perfect monthly menstruation cycle and reproductive health.

The extra pounds you gain can interfere with your hormones, causing your ovulation process and egg release to be negatively affected. Women who are obese produce more insulin which may cause irregular ovulation. Furthermore, obesity & excess production of insulin is directly connected to an infertility problem known as PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome). 

Women with obesity often develop PCOS, a condition associated with hormonal imbalances. Many adverse effects can occur due to this condition, such as irregular menstruation, an-ovulation, problems with endometrium receptivity, and overproduction of male hormones. 

PCOS in obese women can impair hormones & metabolic functions. It also reduces the quality of oocyte production, which ultimately leads to infertility.

In obese women with PCOS, the quality of eggs is reduced, and the risk of miscarriage increases, even if they choose to undergo ART procedures.

How obesity affects the fertility of men?

The fertility of men is also affected by obesity. Obese men are at more risk of infertility problems compared to other men. The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) says that gaining 10kg of weight increases men’s chances of infertility by 10%.

The increase in body fat hinders men’s ability to produce hormones, which play a crucial role in sperm production. It is believed that excess fat converts testosterone (male sex hormone) into estrogen; therefore, a high level of estrogen can interfere with testicular stimulation. 

Men with a high BMI had lower testosterone levels, according to experts who study human reproductive systems. A study reported that obese men had 26% lower testosterone levels than normal-weight men. Men with high BMIs are also likely to produce abnormal amounts of semen.

Overall, the quality and quantity of sperm are affected by excess body weight or obesity.

Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) is also decreased due to excess body fat. GnRH is an important hormone accountable for the natural ovulation process in women, and it is accountable for healthy sperm production in men. Additionally, GnRH contributes to the production of luteinising hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), which play a vital role in the growth of eggs and sperm.

The fact that losing weight can be extremely beneficial for managing many health conditions, including infertility issues, has been demonstrated by numerous studies. Furthermore, ideal weight can help in the management of full-term and healthy pregnancies. In most cases, losing weight can solve some fertility problems. To know more, consult Dr. Susmitha Reddy, our top Gynecologist & fertility specialist in Hyderabad, and get the right solution for infertility caused by obesity.