Weight problems and fertility

Could you be too fat or too thin to get pregnant?


Q: I don’t seem to be getting pregnant – is it because I’m overweight?

Expert midwife Catherine Parker-Littler, director of midwivesonline.com says: Fertility rates appear to be lower and miscarriage rates higher in women who are overweight, so if you are planning to get pregnant, you should try to aim for a BMI (body mass index) in the range of 20-25 to improve your reproductive health.


Your hormonal balance can become unbalanced when your body has more fat-related weight than is optimal.

Being overweight can also increase your risk of complications during pregnancy such as high blood pressure and diabetes.

Q: I like to be really skinny – will that stop me having a baby?

Midwife Catherine Parker-Littler says: Being underweight, with a BMI of less than 19, can cause hormonal disturbances that disrupt ovulation and in turn affect fertility.

This relationship between weight loss and lack of ovulation has been well documented and observed in young athletes, ballet dancers and gymnasts.

If tests show that you are not ovulating regularly, you may also be offered medication to deal with the problem. You may need to take steps to gain weight in a sensible way – consult your GP about this.

Ask A Midwife, by Catherine Parker-Littler, is published by Dorling Kindersley £14.99. Click here to buy.

Read more



Please read our Chat guidelines.