Obesity is a condition in which a person has noticeable, accumulated fat much more than that is ideal. Obesity may be defined as a BMI (Body mass Index) of a substantiated 30 per cent or even higher than the average specifications. Obesity can have a negative impact on the health and well-being of a person, increase the risk of lifestyle disorders and affect fertility and pregnancy as well. It is important to understand how obesity affects male and female fertility and pregnancy.
Obesity is not the result of just a single factor, but many factors usually contribute to it. Some of the factors considered as possible causes of obesity include genetic make-up of an individual, history of certain medical conditions, a person's health, lifestyle and behavior. More emphasis has been laid on dietary patterns and eating habits of a person, which can contribute to obesity to a great extent. Similarly, a sedentary life, lack of physical activity or an exercise routine can add to increased accumulation of fat in obesity.
How does Obesity Affect Male and Female Fertility and Pregnancy?
Male and female fertility depends on certain factors in most cases, which need to be understood. For some cases, in which male and female fertility is affected, the exact cause may not be known, however, in some cases, the cause may be related to obesity.
Some of the common causes that can affect male and female fertility, which can also be influenced by obesity in some cases, include
- Blockage in the fallopian tubes or damage in the same
- Disorders in the process of ovulation
- Meager quality of sperm
- Low or insufficient sperm count.
Some lifestyle factors such as excessive smoking and drinking may pose a threat to male and female fertility. It is also believed that impact of obesity on male and female fertility is high and must be considered.
Obesity is believed to be related to male and female fertility and pregnancy due to a possible relation of problems in the reproductive system and body fat. Also, obesity may be related to certain conditions involved in hormonal changes, which can influence male and female fertility. Obesity, in itself can cause hormonal imbalances, which can contribute to infertility.
Female Obesity and its Effects on Fertility
Obesity or excess accumulation of fat in women, can not only affect the hormones and menstrual cycle but can also affect the way in which the womb prepares for conception. Obesity in females, can increase the risk of disorders like polycystic ovarian disease and other hormonal problems, which can again be a cause of reduced female fertility. Also, obesity increases the risk of other disorders like diabetes, high blood pressure, which can interfere with female fertility and also increase the chances of complications later on.
Some of the fertility issues due to obesity in women, with excessive accumulation of fat around abdomen and pelvis include
- Irregular menstrual cycles
- Problems with the phases of ovulation
- Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
- Increased levels of androgens
- Increased risk of miscarriage
- Reduced rates of success along with the assisted reproductive technologies (ART).
With a background of these problems, it can be considered that obesity can affect female fertility and pregnancy by affecting the reproductive hormones and by influencing the processes involved in conception and fertilization.
Male Obesity and its Effect on Male Fertility
While research has been widely carried out on how obesity affects female fertility and pregnancy, studies are also being conducted to understand the way in which obesity affects male fertility and pregnancy. Some studies suggest that obesity in men, which causes increased body weight and excess accumulation of body fat can have negative impact on male hormones.
In obese men, obesity can be linked to hormonal imbalances, which ultimately affects the testosterone levels. Testosterone is primarily important for the production of sperms and to maintain a healthy male reproductive system. Obesity can cause decreased levels of testosterone and can also increase estrogen hormones in some men. Such hormonal imbalances caused by obesity can result in poor semen quality and thus affect male fertility and pregnancy.
Another area through which obesity can affect male fertility is by increasing the risk of lifestyle disorders and metabolic syndrome. These conditions have been linked to diminished overall health, erectile dysfunction and can directly affect male fertility and pregnancy.
Emotional Problems in Obesity & its Affect Male and Female Fertility
The interdependence of physiological and psychological factors also contribute to male and female fertility and pregnancy. Obesity can affect male and female fertility by affecting their emotional health too. Lack of interest, reduced sex drive, sexual dysfunction and other psychological factors can affect sexual interaction in many obese people, which too can ultimately affect male and female fertility and pregnancy.