It is estimated that 30-50% of men and women in the reproductive age group are now overweight or obese. As increased weight is associated with reduced fertility in both men and women, it becomes a major issue when it comes to maximizing successful outcomes in an IVF treatment cycle.
Adipose tissue is recognized as the largest endocrine organ in the human body which is responsible for many functions including that of the reproductive organs. As adipose tissue (fat) increases, insulin resistance also increases resulting in hyperandrogenism (increase in male hormones in women) and disordered ovulation in women and altered sperm parameters in men.
Scarcity of body fat also has a significant adverse impact on reproductive function but to a much lesser extent than excess body fat. The major issue in fertility management is that a woman is just half of the couple and she gets most of the treatment for the success of IVF and the male partner does not contribute much beyond a semen sample. Weight of the male partner is also important for successful outcomes in IVF treatment. It is important to treat weight control as a couples issue and not just a woman’s issue.
Initial lifestyle interventions, dietary changes with regular physical activity and attention to psychological interventions such as stress management and behavior modification are some of the things couples who are obese or overweight can do. Studies have shown that women only require modest reduction of 5-7kg to significantly reduce activity with associated improvement in pregnancy rates and significant reduction in miscarriage (spontaneous abortion) rates.