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Beware! Obesity Affects Pregnancy

By Dr. Luna Pant in Bariatric Surgery / Metabolic

Oct 13 , 2015 | 2 min read

Being obese during pregnancy can majorly impact your and your baby’s health. Find out what you can do for a healthy pregnancy.

Men and women may individually have risk factors that can contribute to infertility. These risk factors can be genetic, environmental, or related to lifestyle. One of the most common and well-documented risk factors for infertility in both men and women is obesity.

Fertility is adversely affected by obesity. In recent years, the connection between lifestyle, weight, nutrition, and fertility has attracted much-needed attention. Moreover, for obese, intimacy suffers, which negatively impacts their self-esteem and overall relationship status. Obesity contributes significantly to menstrual irregularities, absence of ovulation, difficulty in conception, reduced response to fertility treatments, increased chances of miscarriage, and perinatal complications.

Obesity in women can cause the overproduction of insulin, which may cause irregular ovulation. There is also a link between obesity, excess insulin production, and the infertility condition known as Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). PCOS is a specific medical condition associated with irregular menstrual cycles, anovulation (decreased or stopped ovulation), obesity, and elevated levels of male hormones.

  • PCOS is a risk factor for infertility, and obese women are three times more likely to suffer infertility than women with a normal Body Mass Index (BMI).
  • Research shows that obesity increases the risk of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) by 2.25 times in women with a Body Mass Index of more than 30.
  • Obese women take longer to conceive than women in the healthy weight range. When they do conceive, they have a higher risk of pregnancy complications such as miscarriage, gestational diabetes, hypertension, and premature birth. The chances of Lower Segment Caesarean Section (LSCS) also increase, which puts the mother and baby at high risk.
Check out the difference between: PCOD Vs PCOS

Pregnancy After Weight-Loss Surgery

Pregnancies after weight loss & lifestyle changes have better neonatal outcomes, such as fewer chances of premature and caesarean deliveries and lower incidence of low and high birth weight babies.

  • It has been documented that weight loss for women with PCOS resolved their metabolic and reproductive abnormalities and these women are able to conceive within a few months after the weight loss.
  • However, to protect women and their babies from potential malnutrition, it is recommended that women should not conceive until their weight stabilises.
  • Pregnancies after weight loss following Lifestyle modification or bariatric surgery have lower risks of developing complications such as gestational diabetes, hypertension, or pre-eclampsia. Therefore, the chances of the requirement of Caesarean section also decreased dramatically, and the maternal & fetal outcomes were more favourable.
  • The risks associated with a caesarian section are much lesser for women and their babies after bariatric surgery. Moreover, it also helps the anesthetist and surgeon while operating.

The prevalence of obesity among women of childbearing age has increased from about 24.2% in 2005 to 28.3% in 2015, and the number of females having weight-loss surgery is rising.

It is important that women who conceive after bariatric surgery remain in touch with their gynecologist and bariatric team with regard to nutrition and vitamin supplementation.