The question of the week for Hot Topic Tuesday today is “Should overweight and obese women use fertility drugs to treat fertility issues when trying to conceive?”
I am not overweight nor have I ever been overweight. Most of my life I have either been underweight or the healthiest weight for my height and body type. Even during my pregnancy with my daughter, I gained only a healthy thirty pounds. Immediately after giving birth, I began working on losing my baby weight to get back down to a healthy weight. I am now six pounds away from my target weight goal of 120 pounds. At 126 pounds, however, my weight is still considered healthy. I could have sat around not exercising and not watching my diet after giving birth, but I chose to focus on my health and lose the extra weight that I still had from my pregnancy. No, losing weight is not easy and does take some effort, but the time and effort needed to get and stay healthy is worth my weight in gold. Pun intended.
In my opinion, women who are overweight or obese and experiencing fertility problems as a result of their unhealthy weight should not turn to fertility drugs as a first option when trying to conceive. I have expressed my opinion here on The Parenting Patch as well as in other forums in the past. I have received quite a lot of negative comments in regards to my opinion. Yes, I understand how touchy the subject of weight is for many people. However, my opinion about weight and fertility drugs is rooted in research and evidence.
I first began writing about the issue of overweight women using fertility drugs to get pregnant after reading an article entitled “Drugs may level fertility playing field for obese: Researchers find weight doesn’t impact pregnancy efforts for women taking fertility drugs.” My initial reaction to the article was one of feeling appalled. If a woman is overweight and experiencing fertility issues as a result of her unhealthy weight, then she should work on losing the weight first before turning to drugs. Oftentimes, overweight women who cannot conceive because of their excess pounds can get pregnant after getting down to a healthy weight. Being overweight is frequently the cause of infertility because excess body fat messes with the hormones in the body. Because hormones control the menstrual cycle including ovulation, then a hormone imbalance caused by excess body fat often leads to infertility. By losing the excess pounds, a woman often finds that her menstrual cycle returns to normal, and she is able to conceive without medical intervention.
Furthermore, being overweight is linked to a host of problems during pregnancy. Overweight women are more likely to experience complications such as gestational diabetes and pre-eclampsia. The risk of suffering from both conditions is reduced by being a healthy weight before and during pregnancy. Such conditions are not only harmful to the mother but are often also harmful to the baby. For example, babies born to mothers with gestational diabetes are more likely to develop diabetes as adults. By being a healthy weight before and during her pregnancy, a woman not only lowers her chances of suffering from complications while pregnant, but she can also reduce the risk to her baby in utero and throughout life.
I am by no means arguing that overweight and obese women should not get pregnant or have babies. On the contrary, if an overweight woman conceives naturally without the use of fertility drugs, then her body is more than likely ready and able to carry a healthy baby to term. Yes, she is at an increased risk for complications, but that her body conceived on its own says something for Mother Nature. What I am against is overweight and obese women turning to fertility drugs to get pregnant before addressing the underlying problem: their weight.
Should overweight and obese women use fertility drugs to address fertility issues? In my opinion, usually not. More often than not, being overweight and obese is the cause of fertility issues in the first place. A woman should work on losing her excess pounds and becoming healthy before she attempts to conceive a child. After all, a healthy pregnancy is not just about getting pregnant and carrying a child to term. Instead, a healthy pregnancy also includes a healthy mother and a healthy baby. Face the facts, people of a healthy weight for their height are less likely to suffer from medical problems and diseases. Lose the pounds, then try to get pregnant.
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Next week’s Hot Topic Tuesday subject: Should BPA be banned from plastic products?
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Obese Lady at Smashburger: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Obese_Lady_at_Smashburger.JPG