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Beware! Obesity affects pregnancy

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Beware! Obesity affects pregnancy

Beware! Obesity affects pregnancy

Being obese during pregnancy can have a major impact on you 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 the recent years, the connection between lifestyle, weight, nutrition and fertility has attracted much needed attention. Moreover, for obese, intimacy suffer, which negatively impacts their self esteem and overall status of their relationship. 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 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 Poly Cystic Ovarian Disease (PCOD) by 2.25 times in women with a Body Mass Index more than 30.
  • Obese women take longer time to conceive than women in the healthy weight range and when they do conceive they have a higher risk of pregnancy complications such as miscarriage, diabetes and premature birth. The chances of Lower Segment Caesarean Section (LSCS) also increase, which put the mother and baby at high risk.


Pregnancy After Weight-Loss Surgery

Pregnancies after weight-loss surgeries have better neonatal outcomes such as fewer chances of premature and caeserian deliveries and lower incidence of low and high birth weight babies.


  • It has been documented that post-surgery 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 surgery.
  • However, to protect women and their babies from potential malnutrition, it is recommended that women should not conceive until their weight stabilises.
  • Pregnancies after bariatric surgery have lower risks of women developing gestational diabetes and the chances of having caesarean sections also decrease dramatically. There are also lower incidences of pre-eclampsia and the mother developing high blood pressure.
  • 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 child-bearing 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 gynaecologist and bariatric team with regards to nutrition and vitamin supplementation.