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The Effect of Weight and Fertility

You overslept this morning, so grabbing a coffee and breakfast sandwich at your local place was a necessity. Someone brought donuts to the office – yay! A quick “pick me up” is just what you needed mid-morning. Take-out for lunch (remember that crazy morning you had?).  Around 3 o’clock a trip to the vending machine keeps you from falling asleep at your desk. You finally get home – so what’s for dinner?

Does any of this sound familiar?
If so, you’re not alone.

But knowing you’ve got lots of company doesn’t make the scale rising any less depressing. You know you should be eating better and exercising more, but who has the time for that? Plus there’s all these celebrations – holidays, birthdays, anniversaries – and we just love to share the joy with family and friends (not to mention we like LOVE chocolate!). Besides, you’re happy, in love and trying to have a baby. It hasn’t happened as quickly as you hoped, so treating yourself to some comfort foods, well they’re just comforting!

But did you know that being overweight (or underweight) affects your chances of conceiving and having a healthy baby?

According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, one of the easiest ways to determine if you are underweight or overweight is to calculate your body mass index (BMI). A BMI between 19 and 24 is considered normal; less than 19 is considered underweight. A BMI between 25 and 29 is considered overweight, a BMI greater than 30 is obese, and a BMI of 40 and above means extreme obesity.

How weight and fertility affects women

Women who are underweight often have irregular menstrual cycles and may stop ovulating completely. Women who are overweight, or obese, require higher doses of fertility medications. They also have fewer eggs retrieved when undergoing IVF, a lower pregnancy success rate, and higher miscarriage rates. Obese women are at an increased risk for developing pregnancy-induced (gestational) diabetes and high blood pressure (pre-eclampsia). Obese women also have a higher chance of delivering by cesarean section.  Obesity is also associated with PCOS – a common cause of infertility, affecting 5-10% of women of reproductive age.

How weight and fertility affects men

Overweight or obese men may have low sperm counts and low sperm motility.

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Extra weight costs you physically and financially!

BMI Calculator

Determining your BMI is crucial not only for pregnancy, but for your health as a whole. CLICK HERE for a free online BMI calculator from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Knowing where you stand is the first step in making progress. Now that you have your BMI – develop a healthy plan!

weight and fertilityOn your way to a healthy new you!

With a healthy eating plan and regular exercise, you’ll be on your way to a healthy weight. You should always consult with your doctor before beginning a new diet or exercise plan. Once your doctor gives you the ok to begin, save yourself time (and money) and skip the fad diets; their results don’t last. A good rule of thumb for a healthy eating plan is to “Eat less CRAP and Eat more FOOD”.

Eat Less CRAP:
C – Carbonated drinks
R – Refined Sugars
A – Artificial sweeteners & Colors
P – Processed Foods

Eat More FOOD:
F – Fruits & Veggies
O – Organic lean protein
O – Omega 3 Fatty Acids
D – Drink Water

If you need a bit more guidance, consider meeting with a nutritionist. Based on your health goals or medical needs, the nutritionist can provide guidance on how to safely and effectively reach your goals.

Double up your dieting efforts by starting an exercise plan. It doesn’t need to be anything extreme – to start can be as simple as walking regularly. It requires no special equipment besides a good pair of sneakers (pretty much a wardrobe essential!). It can be done outdoors or indoors – in fact, many malls offer free walking programs, so you’re indoors and no costly gym membership needed.

However, any physical activity you can do on a regular basis could work. Maybe take that ballroom dancing class you wondered about; grab your significant other and a few friends for a competitive game of paint ball – or laser tag – or beach volleyball. The point is to make exercise fun!

To optimize success of fertility treatments, your weight should be in the normal BMI range (19-24)


  1. We recommend weight loss, to a BMI of less than 30, for all women trying to conceive. However, if you are obese, even a 10% weight loss can increase your fertility. Ideally, for the best possible outcome of your fertility treatments and your future pregnancy, your goal BMI should be 19-24.
  2. Women, whose BMI exceeds 40, and are seeking fertility therapy, may be asked to see a high risk obstetrician or MFM before starting treatment.
  3. To undergo IVF treatment at Genesis, your BMI needs to be less than 35. This is to ensure your safety and health while undergoing anesthesia.

Your doctor will discuss with you the importance of your weight as part of the overall review of your medical records and history. We will encourage, or as necessary, require a program of weight loss combining diet and exercise, prior to embarking on fertility therapy and conception.

Original post February 26, 2016
Updated July 12, 2022

If you would like to learn more about GENESIS Fertility New York or are ready to schedule an appointment, please speak with one of our representatives at 718-GENESIS.

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