"America's Leading Experts in Reproductive Health"
Diet, Weight,
and Fertility.



Review Fact Sheets on Diet Weight and Infertility from the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.

Jeffrey A. Keenan, M.D., F.A.C.O.G.
Associate Professor, Director, Division of Reproductive
Endocrinology & Infertility, Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology
University of Tennessee Medical Center, Knoxville

Being overweight is a common problem among all men and women, not just those hoping to conceive. Eating a healthy diet and obtaining regular exercise can be a big part of helping you achieve your goals, whether they are physical fitness, weight loss, or hormonal/fertility improvement. Although persons who modify their diet and begin regular exercise programs generally lose weight, even in the absence of any weight loss, a regular exercise program will significantly improve a woman's hormones, and cardiovascular health There are beneficial changes to your heart as well as your blood sugar and insulin levels, and also to your reproductive hormones. Many women who are not ovulating may begin ovulating.

While it may be true that some people with a weight a problem "don't eat much at all", the fact is that they still have excessive food intake compared to what their bodies require. Remember that everyone's metabolism and calorie usage differs. Unfortunately, many individuals are overweight because they burn and require very few calories compared to an average person.

In the end, it is a very simple formula that no one can deviate from. If you consume more calories than you burn, you will gain weight. If you burn more calories than you consume, you will lose weight. Achieving an "ideal" body weight is not necessary! Research has shown that significant hormonal improvements occur with as little as 8 - 10% body weight loss. There are a few general points to be made regarding diet and eating habits:

  • Don't skip breakfast. If you skip breakfast, this will prolong your body's "fasting mode" and decrease your calorie usage.
  • Drink water instead of other options. Diet drinks are also okay, but some researchers think these may stimulate appetite.
  • Keep a water bottle with you and try to drink water frequently throughout the day, especially when you are hungry. Distention of the stomach, although brief, can help decrease your appetite.
  • Don't eat after supper, there is no way to utilize these calories before you go to bed. The best option for "dieting", and the one that needs to be made a regular part of your life at some point, is simply what can be termed 'sensible eating'.

Let your physician know if you would like to have a formal consultation with a dietitian who can provide you with a personalized diet plan. Be aware that there may be some fees involved with this as insurance does not always cover dietary services. Finally, DON'T GET DISCOURAGED! While everyone CAN achieve weight loss, you may be dealing with issues or circumstances that make this goal exceptionally difficult at this time. Sometimes, these issues are deeply rooted, and psychological counseling can be extremely helpful. Try to be honest with yourself about these problems, and get help if you even think you may need it. In the end, however, being overweight does not make you a 'bad' person, or any less wonderful than anyone else! Usually, your physician can make adjustments to your treatment that will still allow you to have an excellent chance to conceive. If you simply can't lose weight right now, feel good about yourself anyway, and press on with treatment.