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Research is proving the link between obesity and infertility, as shown by a wide range of studies. Many people are choosing bariatric surgery in Houston or their local area to overcome fertility challenges and keep weight off long term. How does weight loss surgery help reverse the effects of obesity and the associated medical conditions that impact fertility?

pregnant woman eating pickle

Does Being Overweight Prevent Pregnancy?

Studies show that being overweight or obese, is a contributing factor to female infertility. There are proven links between obesity and these conditions that may prevent women from conceiving or carrying a child to term:1

  • Menstrual cycle disturbances, causing infrequent or irregular periods
  • PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) which causes problems with the ovaries and eggs
  • Abnormal endometrial tissue, which means changes in the lining of the uterus that interfere with egg implantation
  • Increased risk of miscarriage, pre-eclampsia, and gestational diabetes during pregnancy

Does Being Overweight Cause Male Infertility?

Men who are overweight or obese have been found to have lower numbers of sperm, and in some cases to produce none at all.2 Men who were moderately overweight were 11% more likely to have a low sperm count. Obese men were 42% more likely to have a low sperm count, and 81% more likely to produce no sperm when compared to men of normal weight.2

Men who are overweight are likely to have increased fat in the scrotum, which raises the temperature of the testicles and causes changes to the balance of sex hormones necessary for sperm production. These factors can cause something called “DNA fragmentation,” which may cause an early pregnancy miscarriage.3 Even when viable sperm cells are produced, they often move slowly due to motility problems.

Men can improve their fertility by making these changes at least three months prior to conception:3

  • Losing weight, considering a bariatric treatment in Houston or locally.
  • Increasing aerobic exercise
  • Managing stress
  • Avoiding tobacco

How Does Losing Weight Improve Fertility for Women?

Women who are overweight or obese often have difficulty becoming pregnant or carrying a pregnancy to term because 30-47% of them have irregular menstrual periods and hormonal problems that may prevent the release of viable eggs, fertilization, implantation, or normal development in the womb.4

Following successful weight loss through lifestyle changes and as appropriate visiting a bariatric clinic in Houston, women typically experienced these benefits:4

  • Reduced levels of hyperinsulinemia
  • A decline of testosterone, androstenedione, and DHEA-S—hormones which cause female infertility
  • An increase in body image satisfaction and improvement in the quality of their life in general.

How Does Bariatric Surgery Improve Fertility?

So, what can men and women do to reach a healthy body weight and improve their chances of getting pregnant? Many individuals choose bariatric surgery in Houston or their local area by recommendation of their fertility doctor.

When increasing fertility is a long-term goal and obesity is identified as a contributing factor to the challenges a couple is experiencing, weight loss surgery can be a more natural solution than hormone fertility treatments. Weight management is a highly recommended way to improve markers of fertility and pregnancy outcomes for overweight individuals.4

group of happy pregnant women exercising yoga

Bariatric Surgery Offers These Benefits to Fertility

Studies of women who had bariatric surgery showed a wide range of fertility-enhancing benefits, including:1

  • Improved cycle regularity and more predictable ovulation
  • Increased rates of “spontaneous” pregnancy, which means accomplished without taking special steps or “trying” to become pregnant
  • Natural resolution of existing PCOS in up to 96% of patients with that issue
  • Improvement in medical conditions and risk factors to health, including metabolic syndrome, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, glycemic control, and sleep apnea
  • Improvement in all clinical hormonal markers for fertility and healthy pregnancy

Reproductive Health Decisions After Bariatric Surgery

In fact, because bariatric patients in Houston and around the country should expect their fertility to rise as they lose weight, contraception is an important concern before and after the procedure.

Most practitioners and bariatric surgeons recommend that women wait 18-24 months following bariatric surgery to become pregnant, and to use deppendable ways to prevent pregnancy during this time, in consultation with their GYN doctors. giving the body time to reach a healthy weight and maintain that balance with proper nutrition. Men do not necessarily need to wait but will see the most improvement to their sperm count and quality after they achieve  healthy weight.

Recommended Contraception After the Procedure

Consulting your GYN Provider is very important in deciding what is the most appropriate way for your individual needs.

Pregnancy Management After Bariatric Surgery

Having a healthy pregnancy after bariatric surgery is not only possible but, in fact, those women who have achieved a healthy body weight by this method have less risk of common gestational medical problems than women who are obese.4 This encouraging news means that when you are ready, you and your partner can have a normal pregnancy with proper nutrition and monitoring.

Your OB/GYN doctor,  your bariatrics specialist in Houston, and your nutritionist should guide your decisions during pregnancy, and they will most likely proceed with:

  • Serial (regular) evaluations and ultrasound monitoring of fetal development for normal growth rates
  • Tracking the mother’s weight gain to make sure it reaches normal goals for pregnancy
  • Nutritional supplements “ very important”. relative to the type of bariatric procedure you had and your individual and baby needs.
  • Monitoring dietary intake, endocrine levels, and regular full blood tests including vitamins and minerals, throughout the pregnancy. “ at least once every trimester”.
  • Planning for labor and delivery.

pregnant woman getting ultrasound from doctor

Can You Breastfeed After Bariatric Surgery?

With careful dietary changes, women can and do breastfeed after bariatric surgery. Studies have found that the breast milk quality for those who have had bariatric surgery to be of equal or greater nutritional quality than a control group of women who have not.4 This may be due to the more controlled and planned eating habits necessary after the procedure, or it could be a sign of improved metabolism and good health.

Will a Pregnancy Make You Put the Weight Back On?

During pregnancy, you should expect to gain the amount of weight your doctor recommends, close monitoring and nutritional counseling is very important, not to gain too much weight.

the excess weight will include the growing child and the additional fluids and tissues which support and nourish healthy development. Also, during pregnancy, you will have increases in breast size, muscle mass, body water content, and bone density.6 So, your weight during and after pregnancy will change. again it is your eating and lifestyle healthy choices what is ultimately will dictate how much weight you gain during pregnancy, and how fast you will be able to get to healthier weight after.

Choosing a Bariatric Surgeon Who Supports Your Reproductive Goals

With more than 1/3 of adults in the U.S. suffering from obesity, it can be difficult to diagnose and treat fertility issues without achieving a healthy body weight. For both men and women, the reproductive system functions better when we lose weight, and bariatric surgery in Houston can be a step toward wellness and a healthy family.

Working with a board-certified surgeon like Dr. Brian Mirza at Bariatric Care Centers will give you the peace of mind and individualized advice you need to make this important decision. With 15 years of surgical experience, you can expect optimal results and quick recovery, getting you to where you want to be as fast as possible. Contact us today to discuss your reproductive and weight loss goals in a supportive and empowering environment.

 

Disclaimer: This is only for general information. All patients should consult their doctors prior to following any of the recommendations in any articles, posts, infographics, or videos. All patients have individual needs and limitations, of which only their treating physicians can be fully aware.

Sources:

  1. https://academic.oup.com/jcem/article/97/12/4352/2536374
  2. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/hsph-in-the-news/excess-weight-sperm-fertility/
  3. https://www.cnn.com/2019/04/25/health/male-infertility-food-drayer/index.html
  4. https://www.hindawi.com/journals/jobe/2018/4587064/
  5. https://www.aafp.org/afp/2010/0401/p905.html
  6. https://www.tommys.org/pregnancy-information/im-pregnant/weight-management/pregnant-after-weight-loss-surgery