Carol Powell, BSN, MSN, RNC-OB
Weight has a larger impact on a woman’s fertility than you may have thought; being either overweight or underweight can affect a woman’s ability to get pregnant. Women should start making healthy choices about weight management, nutrition and exercise as they begin planning for pregnancy.
Here are some facts about underweight women and fertility:
Medical studies have shown that women who are underweight (women who have a BMI under 18.5) have low estrogen levels that diminish ovulation and the menstrual cycle. This translates to difficulties in conception. Unchecked, being underweight can also affect your baby when you give birth, as women with low BMI often have difficulty breastfeeding.
Our recommendations for women who are underweight and trying to get pregnant:
- Have a goal of gaining 1-2 pounds per week by eating well-rounded, nutritional meals.
- Keep a food diary. For the first few days, track your regular eating habits, and gradually introduce more nutrient-dense and healthy-fat foods.
- Eat 5 small meals per day, and track them.
Here are some facts about overweight women and fertility:
Women who are overweight, or have a BMI higher than 25, are also at risk of infertility. Excess weight in women contributes to irregular menstrual cycles and increased difficulties in conception.
Baptist Health recommendations for women who are overweight and trying to conceive:
- Plan on a modest weight loss of 5-10% of your weight to improve your chances of fertility.
- 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise per week is recommended.
- Planning and tracking nutritious meals 3 times per day is vital.