Weight and Preconception Health

Weight and Preconception Health

Obesity can negatively impact fertility in both men and women. In women, obesity is associated with hormonal imbalances, irregular menstrual cycles, ovulatory dysfunction, and reduced egg quality, all of which can hinder conception. In men, obesity can affect sperm quality, motility, and overall reproductive function. 

Being obese increases the risk of complications during pregnancy, such as gestational diabetes, high blood pressure (preeclampsia), caesarean delivery, and foetal macrosomia (large birth weight). These complications can have long-term effects on both maternal and child health. 

It can also pose challenges during fertility treatments such as in vitro fertilisation (IVF). It may reduce the success rates of fertility treatments and increase the risk of miscarriage.  

Studies suggest that a 10% decrease in pre-pregnancy BMI for obese women could reduce stillbirth risk by 10%. Achieving a healthy weight before conception is widely recognised as crucial. Moreover, the WHO Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity views preconception and prenatal care as key strategies to combat non-communicable diseases. 

Therefore, a regular routine of physical activity plays a crucial role in weight management during preconception, which is important for individuals with obesity or overweight status. 

Recommendations for Preconception Health 

Aim for a healthy weight before conception by following a balanced diet and engaging in regular physical activity.  

A routine to consider:  

  • A low-impact aerobic activity such as brisk walks 
  • 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity 
  • 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity per week 
  • Muscle-strengthening exercises on two or more days per week 

Some physical activities to enjoy:  

  • Swimming, a gentle yet effective full-body workout that is easy on the joints 
  • Prenatal yoga that is a combination of stretching, strengthening, and relaxation techniques 
  • Pilates that focuses on core strength, flexibility and posture 
  • Indoor and outdoor cycling 
  • Dancing or dance-based fitness classes  

Remember to always consult with healthcare providers before starting any new exercise regimen, especially during preconception and pregnancy. Focus on activities that you enjoy and can safely perform based on your fitness level and health status.