Women, weight and fertility

Weight is very important when it comes to conceiving. Being either overweight or underweight can reduce your chances of getting pregnant.

Why does weight affect fertility?

It all boils down to hormones. If you’re overweight or underweight, it can directly influence changes to your hormones – more specifically, your oestrogen levels.

You can check if you’re a healthy weight using an online BMI calculator

If you’re overweight and you do become pregnant, there’s an increased risk of complications such as gestational diabetes, so it’s important that you’re a healthy weight both before and during your pregnancy. However, if you’re very overweight during pregnancy, it’s not advisable to try and lose weight, as this might not be safe for you or the baby. If you crash diet during pregnancy it can use up vital vitamins and minerals in your body, so there aren’t enough left for a healthy pregnancy.

If you’re struggling to lose weight you can contact your GP, who’ll give you advice on the best way to reach a healthy BMI. You should also make sure that, when you do become pregnant, you attend all your antenatal appointments so that a midwife, doctor or nurse can keep a close eye on you and the baby and help you manage any risks that might present themselves.

Being underweight can reduce your chances of getting pregnant, too. It can cause hormone imbalances that affect ovulation in a similar way to being overweight. Compared to healthy weight women, underweight women are more than twice as likely to take over a year to get pregnant. Having a BMI of less than 18.5 is considered underweight.

What nutrients do I need to get pregnant?

The key nutrients for a woman trying to conceive include:

  • Antioxidants, including vitamins C and E
  • Calcium
  • Folic acid
  • Healthy fats
  • Iron
  • Lean protein
  • Vitamin D
  • Zinc
  • B vitamins (B1, B2, B3, B6 and B12)

You should also consider stopping smoking and drinking before trying to conceive, and that goes for your partner too. It’ll give your bodies the best possible chance to produce healthy eggs and sperm, and, of course, a healthy baby.

Want to be more informed about fertility and how you can boost your chances of having a healthy baby? Download our Guide to the Best Fertility Apps!

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Andrew Drakeley

Mr Andrew Drakeley is the Clinical Director at the Hewitt Fertility Centre, working principally at the Liverpool Women’s site but with managerial responsibility for Knutsford.

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