India- 07 October 2016, Mr. Sudarshan and Mrs. Nandhini (names changed), aged 30 and 29 respectively, had been trying to conceive for two years without any success before they consulted a fertility expert. Upon check-up, it was found that Mrs. Nandini was suffering from a disorder called Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), which was not diagnosed earlier as she had been overweight almost all her life. Dr. Chandana Lakkireddi, Fertility Consultant, Nova IVI Fertility, Hyderabad said “As we observe World Obesity Day on October 11, we aim to spread awareness on the adverse effects of obesity on young men and women in India. In our center, we see that about 22% of the patients who come for infertility treatment are either overweight or obese. 

Many of them are young, between 25 and 35 years of age. While obesity affects human health in many ways, majorly resulting in cardiovascular diseases, its effects on infertility are often overlooked.” Sudden weight gain and abnormal growth of facial hair and acne are some of the major signs of PCOS in women. However, many women fail to relate those symptoms to PCOS. PCOS is a common disorder that is caused by hormonal imbalance in the body, thereby disrupting the ovulation process and eventually leading to infertility when not diagnosed and treated at the right time. It is crucial for women with PCOS to keep their weight in check. Obesity is widely determined by the Body Mass Index (BMI) of a person which is calculated as the average ratio of one’s height and weight. Higher the BMI, higher will be the risk of becoming obese.

In men, obesity can result in reduced sperm count, lowered levels of testosterone, physical constraints, reduced libido, hypertension and uncontrolled diabetes which deteriorates the quality of semen.  “While infertility is a preconceived notion attached to women among many in the society, obesity is a factor that breaks the stereotype and reveals how men too can be infertile. Male factor is seen in 40-45% of the infertile patients we see in Hyderabad.” Dr. Chandana Lakkireddi added. 

Obesity is increasingly becoming a characteristic of many people in urban areas, more than being a disease alone. The lack of exercise, increased consumption of junk food and alcohol, binge eating and insufficient sleep are some of the many reasons for obesity. Obesity can lead to other disorders such as poor heart functions, high cholesterol, and hypertension, apart from infertility. 

“Obese women often tend to face complications with not only in natural conception but also in assisted reproduction techniques that we carry out. We educate our patients about the importance of having their weight in control so that they have a healthy reproductive system. Regular exercise and replacing junk food with healthy food can go a long way in fulfilling the dream of being a parent without any hurdle.” said Dr. Chandana Lakkireddi. Apart from ensuring a balanced diet, one should also regularly get their weight checked to see if their BMI is in the right range. It is necessary for both men and women to maintain a healthy lifestyle, with regular physical workouts and proper food intake to live the dream of healthy parenthood.