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While you likely know obesity is directly related to other health conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure, did you know obesity can also affect the reproductive system?
Obesity is commonly measured as having a body mass index (BMI) over 30. It is a disease that leads to many health complications, including infertility. Women who are obese typically have a harder time becoming pregnant, whether naturally or through reproductive procedures. In addition, obese women who do get pregnant have a higher rate of miscarriage.
What are the challenges?
“Obesity affects hormones, which directly affect the female reproductive system,” explains Dr. Carey Brown, a bariatric surgeon. Hormonal imbalances can lead to insulin resistance, leading to anovulation when the body doesn’t properly produce eggs. Women who are obese also can struggle with irregular periods or polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).
Women who are obese and pregnant have a higher risk of pregnancy and delivery complications. These risks can include preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, hypertension, or infection. Many obese women will need medical intervention during labor. Also, their babies have a higher risk of premature birth, birth defects, or needing neonatal intensive care.
What are the treatment options?
Fortunately, women who are obese have options for finding better health. “Bariatric surgery and treatment of obesity have been shown to improve all these conditions,” says Dr. Brown. “The hormonal changes of the gastrointestinal tract can positively influence the female reproductive organs. They can also possibly change the physical manifestation of PCOS.”
Incorporating regular exercise, choosing healthier foods, and reducing caloric intake can be a good start to weight loss.
Weight loss surgery is an effective and serious solution for those who are morbidly obese, defined as having a BMI of 40 or higher. In general, weight loss surgery can be a good option for morbidly obese people who have tried other weight loss solutions with little to no success.
If you’re wondering if weight loss surgery is right for you, sign up for a free seminar at ketteringhealth.org/weightloss or find the answers to your questions by calling (937) 433-5957.
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