Saturday, 15 December 2007

Fertility hampered by obesity

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Fertility was a chameleon cloud over my adult life. When I was single and not in the baby-seeking department, I hardly thought about it. As I reached my late 20s and nearly all my friends were married, I shot worried glances up at that fertility cloud, wondering if I'd ever meet Mr. Right and try for a baby someday. When I hit 30 still single, the cloud turned into an ominous thunderhead -- my eggs were drying up -- motherhood would never be. By the time I married at 32, the cloud was not as dark, but it did shoot a lightning bolt which screamed "Get pregnant now!" Two kids later, I'm not craning my neck as often anymore.

I know, I know ... dramatic, right? But seriously, a woman's fertility is no guarantee. It's this big unknown. Infertility and miscarriage are terribly painful. Women are also often marrying later in life, which can make it increasingly difficult for some to conceive. Now a major new study found an overweight woman's chance of conceiving falls steadily as her weight creeps upward.

Researchers at the Academic Medical Center in Amsterdam followed 3,000 women trying for a baby to examine the direct impact of body mass index on conception. All participants were ovulating normally, seeking assistance from fertility doctors for "unexplained fertility." For every BMI point between 30 and 35, there was a four percent drop in conception rates compared to women with a BMI between 21 and 29. A BMI of 25 is considered overweight. Severely obese women with a BMI over 35 were 26 percent to 49 percent less likely to conceive.

Last month, the British Fertility Society issued guidelines to its membership requesting fertility treatment be witheld from obese women until they shed weight. Obesity rates are rising. The cloud thickens.

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