Some individuals may find it difficult to conceive naturally and need some medical assistance to carry out a healthy pregnancy. This has led to breakthroughs in fertility treatments such as in vitro fertilisation (IVF).
IVF is a medical procedure that involves artificially inseminating an egg in a laboratory setting and returning the fertilised egg into the uterus. This has proven to be a successful fertility treatment in the years since the first IVF birth in 1978. It currently has a 44.9% success rate among females between the ages of 18 and 35.
Fertility, however, is influenced by many factors like our health, age, and lifestyle. To make sure that IVF is the right treatment to choose for a particular fertility journey, several factors need to be considered and one of them is the body-mass index or BMI.
BMI plays a role in helping a fertility specialist decide the healthiest treatment plan for any individual. For IVF treatments, patients are usually advised to maintain a BMI between 18.5 and 40. It should be noted, however, that high BMI is not always equivalent to more body fat—muscle mass factors into BMI as well.
Why is maintaining an ideal BMI for IVF treatments important? In this blog post, we’ll take a look at the impact of BMI for IVF and how it can affect the success of a treatment cycle.
High BMI means higher doses of medication
During IVF treatments, medication is required to stimulate the ovaries to produce more eggs. When BMI is high, higher doses of medication may be needed for this process.
It’s also been observed that individuals who record a high BMI take longer to respond to these drugs, which may result in not enough eggs being produced for retrieval.
Taking high doses of fertility medication like Clomid could cause side effects such as headaches, hot flashes, mood swings, and nausea. These symptoms aren’t common and will vary based on how sensitive the patient is to the drug.
Despite patients who have a higher BMI needing more drugs during an IVF treatment cycle, there is no evidence that this will affect clinical pregnancy rates.
High BMI could make egg retrieval harder
A major step in the IVF treatment process is retrieving eggs from the uterus. This is done by inserting a long needle through the vagina and into the ovarian follicles where the eggs reside.
When a patient has a high BMI, the ovaries tend to get pushed further away from the vagina because of the layers of fatty tissues in the pelvic region. This makes it difficult to extract the eggs safely using the needle.
Another issue high BMI causes is that excess fatty tissues can affect the clarity of ultrasounds. An ultrasound is used to locate the ovaries and the ovarian follicles, but fatty tissues can lead to hazy ultrasound images that are difficult to make out.
During the procedure, an ultrasound helps doctors see where the tip of the needle is while they extract the eggs. When the ultrasound images are unclear, it can make the process dangerous and could lead to bodily harm or damage to healthy eggs.
High BMI can affect the quality of the eggs
Studies have shown that high BMI due to body fat can affect the quality of eggs. In some cases, an individual with a high BMI may also maintain a diet that is rich in fat, which can negatively affect the eggs in the ovaries.
Research also shows that high levels of fat can damage eggs. Even though these eggs can still be fertilised, they have a lower chance of developing into healthy embryos.
More research needs to be carried out to conclusively establish a clear connection between BMI and egg quality. Staying healthy in both body and mind, however, can have a positive impact on the success of any fertility treatments an individual chooses to undergo.
Choose support to maintain the right BMI for IVF treatment
Achieving the recommended BMI for IVF treatment need not be a difficult task with the right support. Fertility dietitians can help individuals develop a healthy diet and exercise routine to reach their target BMI.
It’s important to keep in mind that the right BMI isn’t set in stone and a healthy body can take many different forms. The success of a fertility treatment also varies depending on the patient’s age and medical history, which is why fertility outcomes are different for everyone.
If you or a loved one are considering IVF treatment, make a fertility appointment at a well-reputed fertility clinic for expert-led, supportive guidance throughout the journey ahead.