The Impact of Obesity on Fertility and Pregnancy: How Bariatric Surgery Can Help

Published on November 4, 2023, 12:45 am

Being overweight or obese can have a significant impact on fertility and pregnancy for those who are hoping to conceive. According to Dr. Seth Kipnis, the medical director of Bariatric and Robotic Surgery at Jersey Shore University Medical Center, obesity is closely linked to fertility issues. It can also increase the likelihood of conditions such as gestational diabetes during pregnancy.

Dr. Stephanie Scianni, an obstetrician/gynecologist at Jersey Shore, explains that obesity is associated with several fertility problems, making it challenging for some individuals to get pregnant. Here are some of the ways in which excess weight can affect fertility:

1. Irregular ovulation: A woman needs a regular menstrual cycle to ovulate and release eggs for fertilization. Excess weight can cause hormone imbalances that disrupt ovulation cycles.

2. Anovulation: Obesity increases the risk of anovulation, a condition where the ovaries do not release eggs regularly as they should.

3. Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS): Being overweight or obese raises the risk of developing PCOS, which is a hormonal disorder that affects the ovaries and often leads to infertility.

Additionally, being overweight or obese carries increased risks during pregnancy itself. Dr. Scianni explains that these risks can put both the mother and baby in more danger of experiencing complications throughout pregnancy.

The good news is that bariatric surgery may provide a solution for individuals who have struggled with losing weight through diet and exercise alone. Dr. Kipnis emphasizes that by helping women shed excess weight, bariatric surgery can address underlying issues contributing to infertility while also reducing some of the heightened risks associated with pregnancy.

However, it’s essential to start by consulting specialists to determine if bariatric surgery is suitable for you as there are various factors involved in determining candidacy for this procedure.

If you do undergo weight-loss surgery, it’s crucial to allow your body time to adjust before attempting to get pregnant. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology recommends waiting 18–24 months after weight-loss surgery to maximize the chances of a successful pregnancy. This period allows your body to adapt to the changes and ensures you become as healthy as possible.

Dr. Kipnis wants patients to understand that weight-loss surgery is not a quick fix or a cure for obesity. It is a tool that can help individuals achieve significant and long-lasting weight loss, but it requires commitment to a healthy lifestyle, including proper nutrition and regular exercise.

Remember, the material provided through HealthU is meant for general information purposes only and should not replace personalized medical advice from your physician. Always consult with your healthcare professional for individualized care.

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In conclusion, obesity can significantly impact fertility and pose risks during pregnancy. However, bariatric surgery offers hope for those struggling with weight loss and associated complications, helping them on their journey toward increased fertility and healthier pregnancies.