Rising levels of obesity in the west could trigger infertility crisis
Soaring levels of obesity in the western world are likely to trigger an infertility crisis among women, a study has suggested.
And experts believe that couples seeking infertility treatments like IVF could double in the next ten years.
The Lancet report suggests that obesity exacerbates a common disorder – polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) – which affects one in 15 women worldwide. It occurs when women have excess male hormones, and symptoms include excess hair, acne and infertility.
‘Obesity has a substantial effect on the manifestation of polycystic ovary syndrome,’ the paper says. ‘Excess weight exacerbates metabolic and reproductive abnormalities in women with the syndrome, and family studies suggest weight gain might promote …polycystic ovary syndrome in a susceptible population.’
Robert Norman, the lead author at the University of Adelaide, Australia, tells the Guardian: ‘Obesity doesn’t cause PCOS but it exacerbates it…it’s argued that obesity will cause a crisis in infertility and I agree.’
Obesity rates in the UK have quadrupled over the last 25 years, and two-thirds of adults are overweight: of these, nearly a quarter are obese, prompting experts to believe that couples seeking infertility treatments could double in the next ten years.
But if women make the effort to shift the weight and improve their fitness, the likelihood of them falling pregnant – and, therefore, not needing infertility treatment – will greatly improve.
Fertility expert Geeta Nargund, said: ‘I would be concerned if any clinic was offering IVF to overweight women without first advising them to lose weight. Fertility treatments aren’t just about getting women pregnant but about healthy mothers and healthy children.’