What is Infertility?
Infertility happens when a person is unable to naturally procreate, it is defined as the inability to conceive after a 12 month period of unprotected sex. Infertility occurs in around 1 in 6 Australian couples and effects both men and women for a wide range of reasons including ovulation disorders for women, or low sperm counts in men.
Research has shown connections between obesity and infertility, where obesity decreases the rate of natural conception. Although obesity does have an impact on male fertility, it is nothing compared to the effects it has in the woman’s capacity to carry a long term pregnancy. It is the insulin resistance often brought upon by obesity (see Type 2 Diabetes page) that affects the woman’s ability to produce eggs each month, but also contribute to destabilizing sexual hormones and androgen’s. Women with an overweight BMI (between 25 and 30) have a 30% increased infertility rate when compared to that of a healthy BMI (Between 18 and 25), this increases further as women with a BMI in the Obese range (30 or over) have an increased infertility rate of around 170%.
The reason for these increased rates in women most likely lies within Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS).
What is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)?
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disorder associated with obesity that causes the female hormones estrogen, and progesterone to become unbalanced, causing the growth of abnormal cysts on the ovaries. PCOS causes women to incur abnormal or absent period cycles, the growth of excessive facial/body hair, acne growth, irregular mood changes, sleep apnea and of course, infertility. It is important to note that some women may experience all symptoms, while others may have none, the condition varies.
Those suffering from PCOS may find it developed from family inheritance but is more commonly caused by insulin resistance as frequently developed from obesity-related conditions such as type 2 diabetes.