Lifestyle/weight

Beer bellies just don't equal pregnant bellies

You've probably been told to watch your weight or you'll risk developing chronic diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes but did you know that your beer belly might be causing you and your partner trouble conceiving as well?

That's right, an unhealthy weight – in either partner – can also have a significant impact on your ability to conceive.

"Obesity can cause problems from conception right through to delivery and beyond," Fertility Specialist Dr Antony Lighten says.

"An unhealthy weight in both men and women can affect fertility and delay the time it takes for a woman to fall pregnant."

The Fertility Factor - Could being overweight be stopping me getting my partner pregnant?

Being overweight or obese not only reduces the chances of a couple conceiving naturally, but also means fertility treatment, such as IVF, is less likely to be successful. So you may need to embark on a healthy eating and exercise program to increase fertility;

Obesity can lower your sperm count by up to 50 per cent due to hormonal changes. Being obese reduces your level of testosterone as testosterone is converted to oestrogen in the fat tissue. The oestrogen produced has a negative feedback effect reducing the production of Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH). A reduction in FSH results in a reduction in the production of sperm and that can reduce your chance of getting your partner pregnant by up to 50 per cent. Overweight men are also more likely to suffer erectile dysfunction.

Increased body fat in men is also associated with raised testicular temperature which further adversely affects sperm production and function. But what's of more concern is that male obesity can also affect sperm DNA integrity. If the sperm DNA is damaged (known as sperm DNA fragmentation) this can have a strong negative effect on both the chance of natural conception and conception with IVF treatment. Sadly, this can also significantly increase the risk of miscarriage.

What's my BMI?

Your BMI or Body Mass Index is calculated from your weight and height - it's one way to determine body fat. You can use our BMI calculator on the righthand side of this page to figure out yours.

In both men and women, a BMI:

  • over 30 is considered obese;
  • between 25 and 29.9 is considered overweight;
  • between 18.5 and 24.9 is considered a healthy BMI; and
  • under 18.5 is considered underweight.

The good news

Fortunately, losing weight can help improve your chance of conceiving and minimise the risk of complications if your partner does fall pregnant.

Losing weight leads to an improvement in testosterone levels, sperm counts and sexual function. 

So the good news is that weight loss itself can be an effective fertility treatment and many of our patients conceive naturally after focusing on their diet and trying to exercise more.

Next steps

At Genea Oxford we're focused on helping you achieve your goal of a baby and if that can be done without medical treatment then that's a great outcome. For more information on how we can help, contact us today