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Can obesity & overweight affect fertility?

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Many studies have highlighted the link between obesity and infertility in women. For example, obesity can contribute to problems with ovulation and to irregular menstrual periods. It also contributes to a lowered response to fertility treatment and to miscarriages. Research indicates that reducing obesity improves women's reproductive health.1

Women with a condition called polycystic (pronounced pah-lee-SIS-tik) ovary syndrome, or PCOS, face a higher risk of both obesity and infertility. Lifestyle changes, such as losing weight, can trigger body changes that facilitate conception in women with PCOS.2,3 Learn more about PCOS.

Men's obesity also is associated with a higher risk of infertility. There are several ways that excess weight may affect a man's fertility, including changes in his hormone and semen production.4


  1. Zain, M. M., & Norman, R. J. (2008). Impact of obesity on female fertility and fertility treatment. Women's Health, 4, 183–194. [top]
  2. Legro, R. S. (2007). Pregnancy considerations in women with polycystic ovary syndrome. Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology, 50, 295–304. [top]
  3. Kiddy, D. S., Hamilton-Fairley, D., Bush, A., Short, F., Anyaoku, V., Reed, M. J., et al. (1992). Improvement in endocrine and ovarian function during dietary treatment of obese women with polycystic ovary syndrome. Clinical Endocrinology (Oxford), 36, 105–111. [top]
  4. Du Plessis, S. S., Cabler, S., McAlister, D. A., Sabanegh, E., & Agarwal, A. (2010). The effect of obesity on sperm disorders and male infertility. Nature Reviews: Urology, 7, 153–161. [top]

Last Updated Date: 11/30/2012
Last Reviewed Date: 12/30/2013
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