Your Fat Ovaries May Be Harming Your Fertility

pregnancy testWhile it's been known for some time that overweight women have more trouble conceiving children than their normal weight peers, recent research shows just how "fatty ovaries" can hinder fertility. I didn't know that one's ovaries could be fat, but indeed they can. Researchers found that the embryos of eggs exposed to fatty ovaries, such as those in obese and diabetic women, are at risk for developmental harm.

While the eggs involved in the study came from cows and not humans, it does provide some interesting insight as well as more reason than ever for overweight women to do everything they can to lose weight before attempting to become pregnant. Researchers explained that obese people and diabetes usually metabolize more of their fat, which creates higher levels of fatty acids in the ovaries. This can in turn kill eggs before they're fertilized. 

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If you want all the detailed scientific speak, here's how researcher Roger Sturmey from Britain's University of Hull, who worked on the study, explained the findings:

Where eggs were exposed to high levels of fatty acids, the resulting embryos showed increased amino acid metabolism and altered consumption of oxygen, glucose, and lactate -- all of which indicates impaired metabolic regulation and reduced viability.

In other words, if you want to get pregnant, you will likely raise your rates of success if you maintain a normal weight. Of course, losing weight isn't just that simple, and for some women, it's a battle they've fought their entire lives. In those cases, I suppose this study may bring on more guilt than anything. Hopefully, instead it will provide reinforcement for goals and new hope for a child someday.

When so much of infertility is inexplicable and feels out of one's control, it's nice to have evidence there's something that some women can do to increase their odds of conception. I know in the years I struggled with infertility, I would have done almost anything to up my chances of getting pregnant ... and sometimes did (remind me some time to tell you why I banned my husband from eating peas for a year once). So a concrete step some women can take like this, instead of just seeking out another fertility statue, is welcome news.

Are you surprised to know that fatty embryos may impair fertility?


Image via Joe Marinaro/Flickr

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