We've pointed out that obesity can hinder your odds of getting pregnant. But you might be wondering how exactly preconception weight affects your fertility. Medical scientists, too, are still trying to find specific answers to this question. The issue is complex and still being actively investigated by researchers, but experts do have insight into a couple of ways obesity impacts fertility:
- PCOS: As previously mentioned, PCOS, or polycystic ovary syndrome, is more common in obese women. This endocrine disorder occurs when a woman's ovaries produce higher-than-normal amounts of male hormones (all women have a certain amount of male hormones in their bodies, just as all men have a degree of female hormones), and prevents the ovaries from producing fully mature eggs.
- Excess estrogen: Obesity can increase estrogen production in both men and women. In men, too much estrogen can inhibit sperm production [source: University of Utah]. In women, it can prevent an embryo from attaching to the uterine wall [source: WebMD].
Of course, these are ways in which obesity effects fertility. But did you know that being underweight can also have a major impact on your ability to get pregnant? We'll look at that particular problem on the next page.