I am overweight. Will this impact on my chances of conceiving pregnancy?
Women who are significantly overweight can find it harder to become pregnant. This is because fat cells release oestrogen, which in turn tells the pituitary gland to suppress the release of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). Without FSH, ovulation does not occur (see pages 36-37 for more on the hormonal cycle). If your body mass index (BMI – see below) is over 30, you are considered to be clinically obese and this can lead to a whole range of medical problems that can reduce fertility. One of the most common of these is polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS – 22), but you will also be at risk of developing diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure, all of which can harm you and your baby.
Being overweight also has an impact on male fertility. Men tend to carry extra weight around their abdomen and genital area. This can cause an increase in temperature and therefore affect sperm production.
If you are overweight, speak to your GP or a nutritionist about the best way to lose weight safely (see also Step 6). You might only need to lose a small amount to restore your hormonal balance and improve your fertility.