Obesity at Young Age Increases Likelihood of Infertility

Reproductive Health Findings for Bariatric Patients: Obesity at Young Age Increases Likelihood of Infertility and Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome; Chances of Pregnancy and Live Birth Are Good

In an observational study of the reproductive health of women undergoing bariatric surgery, researchers analyzed data from 1,538 patients treated at six US clinical sites participating in the Longitudinal Assessment of Bariatric Surgery (LABS) study, supported by the National Institutes of Health.

The participants were measured for height and weight and answered questions about their sexual history, pregnancy history, infertility history, history of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), history of contraceptive use, and plans for future pregnancy. The participants also completed a validated self-administered weight history, giving their weights at 18, 25 and 30 years.

The researchers found that women who became obese by age 18 were more likely to have a history of infertility and polycystic ovarian syndrome and less likely to become pregnant than women who became obese later in life. However, the overall percentages of LABS-2 participants who had at least one pregnancy (79%) and at least one live birth (74%) were comparable to the general US population.

While about half of the women surveyed between ages 18 and 44 and not reporting menopause, sterilization, partner sterilization, or other impediments to pregnancy said that they would never try to become pregnant after bariatric surgery, 30% of women in this category thought the possibility of future pregnancy was very important. Of those women, almost 33% planned to get pregnant within two years of having bariatric surgery.

“As the incidence of obesity increases in the United States, women’s health care practitioners are likely to care for a substantial number of patients who will undergo bariatric surgery. Studies like this one are extremely useful to help us determine how to advise these patients and best meet their needs,” remarked William Gibbons, MD, President-Elect of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.

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