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Obesity and Women’s Health

By Dr. Atul N.C. Peters in Metabolic And Bariatric Surgery

Feb 03 , 2021 | 1 min read

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Obesity is the leading cause of health related disorders. It negatively affects the health of women in a lot of ways.Being obese raises the risk of diabetes and coronary artery disease in women. Women who are obese have a higher risk of developing PCOD, multiple cancers, lower back pain and knee osteoarthritis. Obesity also affects both contraception and fertility as well.

PCOD:  The link between PCOD and obesity is complicated, though obesity is a characteristic of polycystic ovary syndrome. PCOS is one of the most common hormonal disorders in women of reproductive age. Although the symptoms vary in individuals, a diagnosis is usually made after two of the three symptoms found; menstrual irregularity, excess androgen and polycysticovaries.  Insulin resistance is also found with PCOD which further complicates the issue and may lead to diabetes in the long run. Studies have shown that as little as 10% weight reduction can be effective in restoring ovulation and menses. For ladies who are obese, weight loss surgery is one of the many solution to cure PCOD (Polycystic Ovarian Disease).

Infertility:  Obesity results in an increased production of estrogen, this hormonal imbalance, in turn, interferes with ovulation, which of course, is the basis of successful conception. To add to this, women who are overweight or obese are less likely to respond to fertility drugs. This occurs because the excessive weight obstructs the proper absorption of the fertility drugs used during treatments. Also, women are at a greater risk for pregnancy complications like increased risk of miscarriage, having a caesarean section, giving birth to a large baby and even gestational diabetes.

Cancer: The link between obesity and risk for several types of cancer is now well established. Particularly in women post-menopausal breast cancer, cancers of the endometrium, cervix, cancers of the liver, gall bladder and some blood cancers. Though the exact cause of these increased risk is not known but it may be due to increased estrogen production, higher levels of insulin and various other immunomodulators with direct and indirect affect on cell proliferation and differentiation.

Bariatric surgery is not the only option it can be the last option the best alternative for significantly obese women who plan on losing excess weight and have already tried other weight loss measures like exercise and dieting but have failed. Bariatric surgery is highly effective in treating obesity-related co morbidities too.