Obesity and Infertility


Hello. I’m doctor, Wendy Schillings. I’m a reproductive endocrinologist at Reproductive Medicine Associates of Pennsylvania. Today I’m going to be talking about obesity and how it affects infertility. Obesity can effect infertility in very obvious ways. Many women who are overweight do not get their cycles. Often this is accompanied by excess hair growth and it can also be accompanied by insulin resistance. All of the things lower their chances of pregnancy.

Sometimes, women who are overweight still do ovulate, however we know that they still have lower success with our infertility treatments. So it is very important for patients who are overweight to consider diet and exercise before undergoing treatment, or at least working really hard at it while they’re doing treatment. While you’re trying to get pregnant, we will give you medications to help you ovulate but these are issues that effect you life-long. If you don’t get regular cycles, you may be at risk for abnormal cells in your uterus in the future including the development of cancer. When we give ovulation induction drugs, that fixes the problem with ovulation. However we also know even with women who ovulate that are overweight, they still may have lower chances the pregnancy with our treatment.

We know that in very overweight, morbidly obese women, that the success of in-vitro fertilization can be reduced as much as half. In addition to lowering their chances of getting pregnant, there are also problems during pregnancy.Women with obesity have higher risk of gestational diabetes, pregnancy induced hypertension, there can be also complications with the baby causing increased rate of c-section. Sometimes we can consider using diet, so that even if you lose ten percent of your weight, you can start ovulating. Sometimes in severe cases bariatric surgery is necessary, but then pregnancy must be delayed for six months. So it’s best if you can do the diet and exercise. Thank you.


Dr. Schillings is a board certified reproductive endocrinologist, obstetrician and gynecologist. She leads all aspects of patient care at RMAPA. In addition, she formerly led the medical team at RE & I Specialist with the Lehigh Valley Physician Group. Dr. Schillings is chief of the Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility at Lehigh Valley Hospital Health Network and Clinical Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Penn State College of Medicine.