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The research behind fertility and BMI

Note on language: I use the word fat as a neutral descriptor to describe my body and use it frequently in my work. The terms “obese” and “overweight” are stigmatising in nature and I only use them when directly quoting research.

Does my weight affect my fertility?

If you’ve ever searched the internet for the answer to this question, I can guarantee you that 99% of the pages you have read will tell you that being fat will make it harder to get pregnant and that you have to lose weight in order to get pregnant, have a healthy pregnancy and be a good parent.

The short answer is yes but not for the reasons that you think!

 

The biggest issue that fat folks face when they want support with their fertility is access. 

 

  • Access to initial tests from their family doctor.
  • Access to referrals to fertility doctors and clinics.
  • Access to fertility drugs like Clomid and Letrozole to induce ovulation
  • Access to fertility treatments like IUI and IVF

 

The majority of fat folks find it difficult to access these because policies within our medical systems often set arbitary BMI limits on accessing this care. 

Clinics who don’t discriminate in this way can be hard to find and often miles away from where you live. 

CHECK OUT THIS POST FOR SOME FAT POSITIVE CLINIC RECOMMENDATIONS

 

Not only are the systems set up to make accessing this care extremely difficult, the majority of fat folks have experienced years of being denied care and treated poorly by healthcare professionals.

This can lead to medical trauma and can make even the thought of having to access medical care for fertility extremely difficult.

But when you want to grow your family and you need medical intervention then the only solution can be advocating for your body and your healthcare.

 

The difficulty with advocating is that there is no simple 5 step formula which will get you the care that you deserve and need. 

 

These  are some things that can shift the needle: 

  • practice, practice, practice 
  • building resilience in having difficult conversations 
  • sacrificing some of your precious mental energy 
  • finding the right healthcare provider in the right mood 
  • having other weight inclusive healthcare providers on your team 
  • RESEARCH 

 

But here is the thing about research. It’s difficult to find, difficult to interpret and often filled with anti-fat bias that is triggering to read as a fat person who wants to get pregnant. 

It is also inaccessible to the majority of folks as it often sits behind a paywall and unless you have further education in science, it’s like reading a completely different language.

So I’ve done the research for you and created a research summary you can use to support you in advocating for yourself with healthcare professionals. It summarises and references seven research studies that explore why fat folks should receive support with their fertility.

 

You should be able to access appropriate and respectful care regardless of the size of your body but that isn’t the world we live in right now.

I hope that this research document helps you in accessing the care that you deserve.

Written By Nicola

Nicola is a fat-positive fertility coach and author of “Fat and Fertile”. She helps fat folks navigate getting pregnant in a weight-obsessed world and advocates for change in how fat people are treated whilst accessing help with their fertility. Nicola uses her unique fat positive framework to support people in finding their own version of health without diets, advocate for their bodies, relearn how to trust their body and believe in their ability to get pregnant.

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