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WEIGHT AND FRTILITY

Welcome back, by now you should have read all we have previously discussed on fertility (insert links). You are also probably wondering what the correlation between weight and fertility is. Hang on, we will delve in to it just about now.

HOW DOES WEIGHT AFFECT FERTILITY IN WOMEN?

Many underweight, overweight and obese women have no problem getting pregnant but some might have problems conceiving, most often due to ovulation problems (failure to release eggs from the ovaries).

Body mass index for women

Being underweight often causes irregular menstrual cycles and may cause ovulation to stop altogether. Underweight women should work with their doctor to understand the cause of this situation, and develop strategies to correct it. Obesity may lead to irregular menstrual cycles and ovulation. However, obese women with normal cycles have a lower pregnancy rate than women with a normal weight, so ovulation is not the only issue. A visit to a health care professional before getting pregnant can help identify other disorders related to obesity that can impact pregnancy such as thyroid disease, insulin resistance and diabetes.

 

DOES OBESITY AFFECT THE CHANCE OF GETTING PREGNANT WITH TREATMENT AND HAVING A HEALTHY BABY?

There is good evidence that obesity lowers the success rate of In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). Studies have shown lower pregnancy rates in obese women; they are also at an increased risk for developing pregnancy induced (gestational) diabetes and high blood pressure (preeclampsia). Obese women have a higher chance of delivering their baby via Caesarean section. Children of obese mothers are at an increased risk of some birth defects and having a high birth weight.

IS OBESITY A FACTOR FOR MEN TOO?

Obesity in men may be associated with changes in testosterone levels and other hormones important for reproduction. Low sperm counts and low sperm motility (movement) have been found more often in overweight and obese men than in normal-weight men.

SHOULD I TRY TO LOSE WEIGHT IF I AM OBESE BEFORE TRYING TO GET PREGNANT?

You should first consult with a healthcare provider. He or she will consider all factors, including your age and any other infertility factors before making a recommendation about whether you should try to lose weight or not.

 

I HAVE POLYCYCSTIC OVARY SYNDROME (PCOS) AND I AM OVERWEIGHT, WILL I NEED TO DO ANYTHING DIFFERENT?

PCOS is a very common condition in young women. Not all women with PCOS are overweight or obese, but many women with PCOS have signs of insulin resistance and/or obesity. A low-calorie diet and exercise may lead to weight loss, regular menstrual cycles, and ovulation. However, women with PCOS may require additional treatment to get pregnant, including medications to decrease insulin resistance. These women should seek the assistance of an infertility specialist.

Exercise during Pregnancy Is it safe to exercise during pregnancy?

We talked a little about exercise in pregnancy in the previous post, you can check it out before getting into this. This post continues to answer the other questions you might have.

WHAT CHANGES OCCUR IN THE BODY DURING PREGNANCY THAT CAN AFFECT MY EXERCISE ROUTINE?

Your body goes through many changes during pregnancy. It is important to choose exercises that take these changes into account:

  • Joints— the hormones made during pregnancy cause the ligaments that support your joints to become relaxed. This makes the joints more mobile and at risk of injury. Avoid jerky, bouncy, or high-impact motions that can increase your risk of being hurt.
  • Balance— during pregnancy, the extra weight in the front of your body shifts your centre of gravity. This places stress on joints and muscles, especially those in your pelvis and low back. Because you are less stable and more likely to lose your balance, you are at greater risk of falling.
  • Breathing—when you exercise, oxygen and blood flow are directed to your muscles and away from other areas of your body. While you are pregnant, your need for oxygen increases. As your belly grows, you may become short of breath more easily because of increased pressure of the uterus on the diaphragm (a muscle that aids in breathing). These changes may affect your ability to do strenuous exercise, especially if you are overweight or obese.

WHAT PRECAUTIONS SHOULD I TAKE WHEN EXERCISING DURING PREGNANCY?

There are a few precautions that pregnant women should keep in mind during exercise:

  • Drink plenty of water before, during, and after your workout. Signs of dehydration include dizziness, a racing or pounding heart, and urinating only small amounts or having urine that is dark yellow.
  • Wear a sports bra that gives lots of support to help protect your breasts. Later in pregnancy, a belly support belt may reduce discomfort while walking or running.
  • Avoid becoming overheated, especially in the first trimester. Drink plenty of water, wear loose-fitting clothing, and exercise in a temperature-controlled room. Do not exercise outside when it is very hot or humid.
  • Avoid standing still or lying flat on your back as much as possible. When you lie on your back, your uterus presses on a large vein that returns blood to the heart. Standing motionless can cause blood to pool in your legs and feet. Both of these positions can decrease the amount of blood returning to your heart and may cause your blood pressure to decrease for a short time.

WHAT ARE SOME SAFE EXERCISES I CAN DO DURING PREGNANCY?

Whether you are new to exercise or it already is part of your weekly routine, choose activities that experts agree are safest for pregnant women:

  • Walking—brisk walking gives a total body workout and is easy on the joints and muscles.
  • Swimming and water workouts— Water workouts use many of the body’s muscles. The water supports your weight so you avoid injury and muscle strain. If you find brisk walking difficult because of low back pain, water exercise is a good way to stay active.
  • Stationary bicycling—because your growing belly can affect your balance and make you more prone to falls, riding a standard bicycle during pregnancy can be risky. Cycling on a stationary bike is a better choice.
  • Modified yoga and modified Pilates—Yoga reduces stress, improves flexibility, and encourages stretching and focused breathing. There are even prenatal yoga and Pilates classes designed for pregnant women. These classes often teach modified poses that accommodate a pregnant woman’s shifting balance. You also should avoid poses that require you to be still or lie on your back for long periods.

If you are an experienced runner, jogger, or racquet-sports player, you may be able to keep doing these activities during pregnancy. Discuss these activities with your health care professional before getting into them.

Glossary

Anaemia: Abnormally low levels of blood or red blood cells in the bloodstream. Most cases are caused by iron deficiency or lack of iron.

Cerclage: A procedure in which the cervical opening is closed with stitches in order to prevent or delay preterm birth.

Cervical Insufficiency: Inability of the cervix to retain a pregnancy in the second trimester.

Caesarean Delivery: Delivery of a baby through surgical incisions made in the mother’s abdomen and uterus.

Complications: Diseases or conditions that occur as a result of another disease or condition. An example is pneumonia that occurs as a result of the flu. A complication also can occur as a result of a condition, such as pregnancy. An example of a pregnancy complication is preterm labour.

Deep Vein Thrombosis: A condition in which a blood clot forms in a vein in the leg or other areas of the body.

Dehydration: A condition that results from loss of water from the body.

Gestational Diabetes: Diabetes that arises during pregnancy.

Hormones: Substances made in the body by cells or organs that control the function of other cells or organs. An example is an oestrogen, which controls the function of female reproductive organs.

Oxygen: A gas that is necessary to sustain life.

Placenta Previa: A condition in which the placenta lies very low in the uterus so that the opening of the uterus is partially or completely covered.

Preeclampsia: A disorder that can occur during pregnancy or after childbirth in which there are high blood pressure and other signs of organ injury, such as an abnormal amount of protein in the urine, a low number of platelets, abnormal kidney or liver function, pain over the upper abdomen, fluid in the lungs, or a severe headache or changes in vision.

Preterm: Born before 37 completed weeks of pregnancy.

Uterus: A muscular organ located in the female pelvis that contains and nourishes the developing foetus during pregnancy.

 

Culled from the ACOG website

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Maternity

October is breast cancer awareness month, a worldwide annual campaign involving thousands of organisations, to highlight the burden of breast cancer. In honour of the breast cancer awareness month, we are giving this helpful guide about breast cancer.

KEY MESSAGES

Breast cancer is the top cancer in women worldwide and is increasing particularly in developing countries where majority of cases are diagnosed in late stages.

1 in 8 women will be diagnosed of breast cancer in their lifetime.

Early detection in order to improve breast cancer outcome and survival remains the cornerstone of breast cancer control.

Risk Factors:

  • Has abnormal genes, such as mutated BRCA-1, BRCA-2, or PALB-2 genes
  • Began her menstrual period before age 12 or began menopause after age 55
  • Used hormone replacement therapy (HRT) with estrogen and progesterone over a long period of time.
  • Has a family history of breast cancer, colorectal cancer or ovarian cancer
  • Has a personal history of ovarian cancer
  • Is currently using or has recently used birth control pills
  • Has never had children, or had her first child after age 30
  • Smokes or uses tobacco

You might be at an increased risk of breast cancer if you are a woman or man who:

  • Is overweight or obese
  • Is not physically active
  • Is over age 40
  • Has already had cancer in one breast
  • Has a family history of ovarian cancer
  • Has had radiation therapy close to his or her chest

SYMPTOMS

Don’t wait for symptoms to appear. Get screened according to guidelines. If you do notice any of the following symptoms, talk with your healthcare professional:

  • A lump, hard knot or thickening in the breast
  • A lump under your arm
  • A change in the size or shape of your breast
  • Nipple pain, tenderness or discharge, including bleeding
  • Itchiness, scales, soreness or rash on nipple
  • A nipple turning inward or inverted
  • A change in skin colour and texture (dimpling, puckering, or redness)
  • A breast that feels warm or swollen

PREVENTION

  • If you have babies, breastfeed them
  • Limit alcohol consumption
  • Exercise daily for 30 – 60 minutes
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Do not smoke, if you do quit.

EARLY DETECTION

  • In your 20s and 30s, have a clinical breast exam (CBE) by a healthcare professional at least every three years
  • Beginning at age 40, have an annual CBE and mammogram
  • If you are at high risk, talk with your healthcare professional about beginning annual mammograms at a younger age and/or having a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • If you have a family history of breast cancer, talk to your health care professional about genetic testing
  • When you reach menopause, talk with your healthcare professional about whether you should have hormone replacement therapy
  • Know what is normal for your breasts. (Breast self-exam is one way you can do this). If you notice changes, see your healthcare professional right away.