Are You 'Too Thin' to Have a Baby?

Women can't catch a break in the weight wars. First we hear that being obese before pregnancy causes problems, then gaining weight during pregnancy causes problems, and now being too thin causes problems, too?

According to ABC News, female athletes are at high risk for fertility problems -- their body fat is so low, it caused them to cease ovulating and menstruating. The problem has been known for years, but it turns out that even recreational joggers who run less than 20 miles a week are not immune.

About 1 in 6 women or 7.3 million couples have difficulty conceiving a child, according to the American Fertility Association, said ABC News. Reproductive specialists say about 12 percent of those infertile women are athletes, and the problem is becoming more acute now that more women are testing the limits of their body -- and their biological clock.


Many female athletes also delay conception to keep up with the competition. This delay further compounds fertility issues since our fertility peaks at age 25 and a woman in her early 20s has a 30 percent chance of getting pregnant each month. By 35, that drops to 12 to 13, and by 40, it's as low as 5 percent.

As an athlete, I hate stories like this because they feel so "told you so." When I first approached my doctor about trying to conceive when I was 27, I had very low body fat and they told me I might have trouble.

I did not.

Of course, I know I'm only one person and I'm no Olympic athlete. I suppose if I had waited, I might have looked into egg preservation, which is what many doctors are now recommending to female gymnasts, ballerinas, and runners for these reasons. Those who are actively trying to conceive are told to lay off the exercise and eat more dairy and fats, which help with conception.

When I think of the way we worship being thin in this country, it's frightening that many of the people we most admire in that way would be unable to bear children.

If there was any more reason to maintain a healthy, in between weight, I can't think of one.

Did exercise affect your ability to conceive?


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