Does obesity cause infertility?

The problem of obesity and infertility or reproductive health issue has reached critical levels in some countries and is growing in India. According to an article published by NDTV in 2014, India ranks third behind the U.S. and China, with 41 million people considered obese. The health problems associated with being overweight are many, and fertility problems are no exception.

Many doctors, fertility consultants included, point out that being overweight puts a person at increased risk for diseases like high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension. It can also lead to fertility problems. “If you’re trying to get pregnant, or intend to start trying, know that being overweight – especially significantly so – can affect your chances of conceiving and having a healthy baby,” according to The site points out that even losing a few kilos before conceiving can help. It also takes longer for obese women to conceive, and when they do conceive, they face a higher risk of complications such as miscarriage, diabetes and premature birth.

According to Dr Spencer Richlin, surgical director and partner in reproductive endocrinology at Reproductive Medicine Associates of Connecticut, “Some women who are overweight or obese experience hormonal imbalances that can affect their menstrual cycles and prevent ovulation, making it harder to conceive.”

Additional facts:

  • Overweight or obese women have less chance of getting pregnant overall. They are more likely to take more than a year to conceive, as compared to women of healthy weight.
  • The risk for pre-eclampsia (a pregnancy condition characterised by a sharp spike in blood pressure and swelling in the face, hands and feet) is double for overweight women and triple for obese women.
  • Overweight women are twice as likely to experience gestational diabetes; for obese women, the risk is eight times higher.
  • An obese woman is more than twice as likely to have a miscarriage. As a result, obesity and miscarriages are also likely to be common. 
  • Babies born to obese women are more likely to be large for their age, need neonatal intensive care or have a congenital abnormality.

Clearly, the benefits of dropping those extra kilos cannot be overstated for overweight women who hope to start a family. Aside from the positive impact, it has on one’s health, trimming some weight can improve the chances of getting pregnant.