Being overweight or underweight can have a significant effect on hormone function.
Obesity is one of the most common health problems in Austria. More than half of all Austrians weigh too much. Obesity can lead to a number of serious diseases: diabetes, heart disease, stroke, cancer and mental illness. Additionally, being overweight reduces fertility in both women and men. Anyone who is overweight has less chance of having a child, both naturally and through artificial insemination.
Fatty tissue is not just an energy store, it also releases important chemical messengers. These confuse the brain which reports inflammation in the body. In addition, fatty tissue contains enzymes that covert male sex hormones into female ones.
Breast growth can be seen in overweight men. Many overweight people develop insulin resistance, a precursor to diabetes. The muscle and fat cells become less sensitive to insulin, the hormone that is released from the pancreas in order that sugar is transported from the blood to the liver and muscles. The body reacts by releasing more insulin into the blood. Insulin in turn interferes with the maturation of follicles.
A general increase in hormone levels causes the hormone surge that normally triggers ovulation in the middle of the woman’s cycle to be lost.
Artificial insemination is often difficult for people who are overweight. Often immature egg cells are formed, which consequently cannot be fertilised well, or not at all during IVF.
Implantation of fertilised cells can also be worse in overweight women than in women of a normal weight, and the uterine lining is also less receptive to an embryo.
Malnutrition and being underweight also disrupts the female hormone balance and can make it difficult to get pregnant. As a result, ovulation occurs irregularly or not at all, as the body would not be able to adequately support a pregnancy. Many anorexic or underweight women practice extreme sports to stay slim or lose weight. This also disrupts the hormonal balance and reduces fertility.
Having an adequate body weight is therefore an important prerequisite for reproduction. Reducing excess weight or gaining weight if you are underweight increases the chances of pregnancy – naturally or as part of fertility treatment.