We as a nation seem to be getting fatter by the minute. We’re always reading about obesity and the problems it causes, of which there are many. But some women, whether because they pay too much attention to the fashion police or they have too much stress or other issues in their lives, are really, really thin. Some women are just tiny, but some have an eating disorder that makes and keeps them thin. Anorexia and bulimia are two eating disorders that wreak havoc with your body.
Anorexia nervosa is a disorder making a person incapable of maintaining a minimum body weight considered healthy for a person’s height and age. Intense fear of gaining weight causes severe dieting and/or excessive exercising. Bulimia is a similar disorder but often consists of binge eating and then vomiting, perhaps combined with laxative use, to prevent weight gain. Among other health issues, both of these conditions can cause infertility.
Women need to have a certain amount of body fat in order to menstruate, conceive and carry a baby. If a woman’s body fat reserves drop too low, her body starts to protect itself and she may stop menstruating, since this is a process that is not vital to her survival. This can prevent her from conceiving. (A bulimic woman may actually carry a little more weight and therefore may continue to menstruate. But the process of binge eating and vomiting may be too harsh on her body to sustain a pregnancy if one is conceived.)
And women aren’t the only ones with eating problems that can affect pregnancy. Men who are anorexic (oh yeah, we’re not the only ones) and have a very low body fat ratio may have a significant drop in sperm production, also hampering the ability to conceive.
If you are hoping to conceive but haven’t been able to yet, consider analyzing your body weight and eating patterns. Look at it from different perspectives. If either you or your partner is particularly thin, consider altering your diet and gaining some weight. Talk with your provider about how to reach and maintain a healthy weight.