Starting a family is something most women look forward to, but if you are significantly overweight or obese, you may find that you have difficulty getting pregnant. If you do get pregnant, having a healthy pregnancy can be a challenge, and your baby may be at a greater risk of health complications.
Here’s what you need to know about obesity and pregnancy and how weight loss surgery can help.
Being overweight affects your body in numerous ways, including fertility. Obesity can cause irregularities in a woman’s menstrual cycle and lack of ovulation. It has even been linked to low testosterone levels and reduced sperm production in men.
For both men and women, losing weight through weight loss surgery can help improve fertility. Women who are having difficulty conceiving can improve fertility by losing even just 5 percent of body fat. Weight loss improves the hormonal environment and can restore normal menstruation and regular ovulation.
Obesity during pregnancy increases risk of several serious health problems, including:
Gestational diabetes — Diabetes that is first diagnosed during pregnancy. May increase risk of having a cesarean delivery. Women who have gestational diabetes are also at higher risk of being diabetic after pregnancy, as are their children.
Preeclampsia — High blood pressure that can occur during or after pregnancy. Preeclampsia can affect a woman’s entire body and may cause the kidneys and liver to fail. It can lead to seizures and even stroke. In serious cases, preeclampsia may necessitate early delivery.
Sleep apnea — Often associated with obesity, sleep apnea is a condition in which a person stops breathing for short periods while sleeping. During pregnancy, sleep apnea can cause fatigue and increase risk of high blood pressure, preeclampsia, eclampsia and heart and lung disorders.
Obesity during pregnancy can also increase risk for the baby, and may lead to birth defects such as heart defects and neural tube defects. It can cause problems with diagnostic tests, such as ultrasounds. Obese pregnant women are also at an increased risk of miscarriage, preterm birth and stillbirth.
Weight loss before getting pregnant can decrease the risk of health problems during pregnancy and can improve overall health, leading to an overall healthier pregnancy. If diet and exercise aren’t working for you, bariatric surgery may be an option to help you get pregnant and have a healthier pregnancy.
If you choose to have weight loss surgery, you should delay getting pregnant for 12 to 24 months, during the period of rapid weight loss. Fertility problems may resolve on their own as a result of the weight loss surgery, but keep in mind that an increase in fertility can also lead to an unplanned pregnancy.
If you are overweight and are struggling with fertility issues, contact McCarty Weight Loss Center today to find out if you are a candidate for weight loss surgery.