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IVF & obesity

Although past research has shown that obesity is associated with lower chances of pregnancy using in vitro fertilization (IVF), a new study finds that obese women who use donor eggs are just as likely to become pregnant as normal weight women using IVF. It isn’t clear whether problems with the eggs of obese women are faulty or whether the difficulty might involve the lining of the uterus. So in studying only women who had IVF with donor eggs, investigators from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and the University of California-Los Angeles were able to eliminate potential problems with eggs, and they ended up finding similar success rates for obese women and their normal-weight peers.

STUDIES HAVE SHOWN THAT WOMEN WHO ARE OBESE HAVE A HARDER TIME GETTING PREGNANT USING IN VITRO FERTILIZATION. BUT NOW RESEARCHERS AT WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE IN ST. LOUIS AND UCLA ARE REPORTING THAT OBESE WOMEN WHO USE DONOR EGGS TO BECOME PREGNANT THROUGH IN VITRO FERTILIZATION APPEAR TO BE JUST AS LIKELY TO BECOME PREGNANT AS NORMAL-WEIGHT WOMEN. JIM DRYDEN REPORTS…

SEVERAL STUDIES SUGGEST OBESE WOMEN HAVE A HARD TIME BECOMING PREGNANT. BUT THE FIRST AUTHOR OF THIS NEW STUDY, EMILY JUNGHEIM, A WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY INFERTILITY AND REPRODUCTIVE MEDICINE SPECIALIST, SAYS IT HASN’T BEEN CLEAR WHY. SOME HAVE THEORIZED THAT THERE MAY BE A PROBLEM SOMEWHERE IN THE LINING OF THE UTERUS, CALLED THE ENDOMETRIUM, WHILE OTHERS BLAME THE WOMEN’S EGGS.

(act) :18 o/c the endometrium

There have been a number of studies done where they looked at

obese women going through IVF using donor eggs, and the thought

is that donor eggs come from a young, healthy population, so

you’ve eliminated the effect of the egg. So in essence, what

you can do by doing this study is look specifically: is obesity

affecting the endometrium?

IN THIS STUDY, THE RESEARCHERS CONDUCTED A META-ANALYSIS, LOOKING AT DATA FROM SEVERAL STUDIES OF WOMEN WHO USED IVF AND DONOR EGGS TO TRY TO BECOME PREGNANT. IN ALL, MORE THAN 4,700 WOMEN WERE INCLUDED.

(act) :18 o/c an effect

And what we saw was that there was no effect of obesity.

The thing that’s difficult with this is we can’t really

pull out women with extreme obesity or morbid obesity,

with a BMI of 40 or greater because we didn’t have a

large enough sample size to look at that. But women with

a BMI of 30 or greater, there didn’t seem to be an effect.

JUNGHEIM SAYS SOME CLINICS WON’T OFFER IVF OR OTHER FERTILITY TREATMENTS TO OBESE WOMEN, BUT SHE SAYS THIS NEW STUDY SUGGESTS THAT PRACTICE MAY BE UNWARRANTED.

(act) :28 o/c and fix

You know, certainly weight loss is important, and a healthy

lifestyle is great going into pregnancy. Again, clinically

meaningful weight loss in these women is really difficult.

And we don’t know that weight loss would necessarily reverse

the adverse, decreased chance of getting pregnant. So we need

to fine-tune our research and figure out what it is, specifically,

that’s going on. Is it overall weight? Is it inflammation?

Is it something specific that we can focus in on and fix?

SHE SAYS AS OBESITY BECOMES MORE COMMON IN WOMEN OF CHILDBEARING AGE, SPECIALISTS LIKE HER NEED TO LEARN MORE ABOUT HOW IT INFLUENCES FERTILITY, BECAUSE SHE SAYS LOSING WEIGHT CAN BE VERY DIFFICULT.

(act) :32 o/c age isn’t

A lot of us have focused on weight loss, but the problem is

clinically meaningful weight loss is really difficult to

obtain. And when you’ve got a woman who has a limited

reproductive window to try to have a baby, you’re gonna’ make

that window smaller by telling her, “Look, you need to lose

50 pounds, 100 pounds.” You know, it makes it that much more

difficult for her to have a baby because you have these

competing risks of weight, which we know affects reproductive

capacity, and age, which we know does as well. Weight is

reversible, whereas age isn’t.

SO JUNGHEIM SAYS IT’S IMPORTANT TO FIND WAYS TO HELP A WOMAN GET PREGNANT NOW, AND THEN DOCTORS CAN HELP THAT WOMAN TO LOSE WEIGHT LATER ON. HER TEAM REPORTS ITS FINDINGS IN THE JOURNAL HUMAN REPRODUCTION. I’M JIM DRYDEN…

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