Obesity May Cause Infertility

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Obesity May Cause Infertility

There may be more to your fertility problems than just stress and reproductive issues.

According to a new study scheduled to appear in the May issue of Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, obesity may be the cause of infertility. The study was conducted in Australia and focused on 96 women of varying body types, from normal to overweight and obese, based on their BMI. This new evidence showed that excess abdominal fat might have an effect on fertility because women that are suffering from obesity experience changes in the tissue surrounding their ovaries, and even in the fluid surrounding their eggs.

Since the development of the egg in the ovary is influenced by the environment in which it develops, and particularly by the follicular fluid which surrounds the developing egg, it follows that these changes could impact an egg’s potential for fertilization. Analysis of the follicular fluid samples revealed that the levels of insulin, lactate, triglycerides, and inflammation-related proteins, also known as CRPs, increased as the subject’s body mass index rose.

The samples also revealed the amount of sex hormone-binding globulin, or SHBG, decreased. This decrease is significant because high SHBG levels are associated with fertilization and pregnancy, and low levels are associated with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, diabetes, and hypothyroidism—all diseases linked to infertility issues.

Researchers in the study stress the preliminary nature of these findings. However, for obese women who have had fertility problems, this study represents a significant first step towards understanding the relationship between abdominal fat and ovarian function. And with female waistlines, on average, two inches bigger than they were a decade ago, continuation of this research will be more important than ever.