Your weight, fertility and IVF – Part II

How does obesity impact conception?

Professor O’Neill believes that the inflammation caused be obesity could have a wide range of negative influences on conception.

“The first step is getting the gametes to fertilise,” O’Neill said. Whether you fertilise naturally or in vitro — where the chances of success are much more efficient in a test tube — you are still starting off with poorer quality material.”

“The next hurdle is getting the embryos to attach and implant in the uterus over the next four or five days. Then the challenge is ensuring that the attached embryo develops in a normal fashion.”

According to the professor this inflammatory injuries could lower the efficiency of those steps.

Will loosing weight help?
Dr Carolyn Jameson a bariatric surgeon and researcher at Kolling Institute knows the subject of struggle with subfertility very well.

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Dr Jameson told Huffington Post Australia:

“Patients may come in unable to conceive a child in the first place — and then they become privy to the impact their weight poses. They’ll lose a bit of weight, return to the IVF clinic and they may go through multiple unsuccessful cycles,”

According to Jameson this is a cyclical problem.

“This then increases their stress and anxiety levels — which are already more common among overweight or obese people — which leads them to putting on more weight. It becomes a cyclical problem.”

Getting rid of the inflammation traces is the key to strengthen fertility which we can achieve by loosing weight.

O’Neill said: “It’s the inflammatory mediators that do the damage. As you reduce that inflammation, you reduce the damage,”

“It doesn’t take very long after that inflammation has reduced to start producing sperm and eggs that have a lower damage profile.”

Jameson often deals with severe cases of obesity, she manages the surgery of their weight loss.

A study published recently in the Obesity Surgery journal shows that bariatic surgery helps to improve factors which impact pregnancy outcomes and fertility. Such surgery can help when a patient has menstrual dysfunctions, polycystic ovaries syndrome or type 2 diabetes. Reducing all those risks will help increasing fertility.

Dr Jameson said “Losing weight regulates a person’s hormones, improves malnourishment and associated comorbidities,”

“With a reduction in all of these risks, their fertility levels increase.”

Jameson alerts people that they should consider the influence of their weight when trying to get pregnant as she said: “People need to understand that obesity significantly affects their chances of a successful pregnancy,”


The issue of subfertility has wider implications for both Jameson and O’Neill as they observed that not only did the fertility rates go down but the obesity levels especially among children went up.

People with abnormal metabolic programs which lead them to be obese will have huge problems with loosing weight. O’Neill said “It is one thing that being obese is strongly associated with subfertility. But obese people do have babies and we know that the embryos they are producing are different,”

“They contain within them information which is going to predispose that infant to obesity and all of its associated comorbidities.”

According to him this embryonic programming lead to a creating a ‚double barrel effect’

“If you are born with your metabolic programming set to be obese, it is a huge issue for those people to regain a normal weight,” O’Neill added

Dr Jameson said “We haven’t really set up society to look after the next generation,” and she agrees with O’Neill on that matter.

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