According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, your best chance of conceiving is when your BMI is in the normal category. Women who are below or above their ideal healthy weight are more likely to encounter difficulties becoming pregnant. That's because your reproductive hormones levels are affected by your amount of body fat.
You've probably heard of women that are extremely thin and perhaps marathon runners or ballet dancers who do not have menstrual periods. That's because their level of body fat is so low, their reproductive hormones cannot function well enough to ovulate. According to a 2002 report by Dr. Rose Frisch published by the University of Chicago Press, a woman needs a minimum BMI of 18 to ovulate and increases her chances of becoming pregnant if she adds a few pounds and boosts her BMI to 19.
On the other end of the spectrum, women with too much body fat may also experience fertility problems. Excess body fat increases the production of estrogen, an important reproductive hormone. Too much estrogen can throw the menstrual cycle out of balance and may stop ovulation. The same report just mentioned concluded that a BMI higher than 25 is associated with slightly reduced fertility and a BMI higher than 27 puts the woman at risk of significantly reduced fertility. The conclusion coincides with what most fertility specialists already say—and that's to keep your BMI in the healthy midrange of about 19 to 25 to have the best chance of becoming pregnant.
If your BMI indicates that you are in the underweight, overweight, or obese category, talk with your doctor about a healthy program to get you within the normal range. Being at a healthy weight not only makes conceiving easier, it also makes for a healthier pregnancy.
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