Link between obesity and infertility

As America's obesity epidemic grows, more and more women who want to become pregnant are having problems.

So now, one Chicago-area doctor is promoting a fertility treatment that takes little more than will-power.

It is the commitment to lose weight.

At 39-years-of age, Fran Carey is working hard to get in shape.
"Stronger, fitter,” she says. “I've lost like a bunch of inches."

But she is not toning up to run a marathon or drop a dress size. Fran is getting fit so she will be fertile.

And she's not alone.

Fran is part of a group of women who hope that diet and exercise will help them get pregnant.

Along with dieting tips, they are given weighted exercise vests and told to workout 30 minutes, twice a day, even if it is just doing the housework, or walking around the block.

The idea comes from Reproductive Endocrinologist, Laurence Jacobs, "It's exciting because these are poor prognosis patients. These are women that are not easy to get pregnant," he says.

Doctor Jacobs says women who are obese, or have a specific condition called polycystic ovarian syndrome, wind up with too much insulin in their bodies to become pregnant.

And losing weight can improve the odds. "Doctors have known about the association with obesity and fertility for almost a hundred years," says fertility specialist, David Cohen.

He tells us that doctors need to first test for insulin resistance, to make sure infertility is not caused by something else. "You can't assume that the person is not having regular periods based on their weight, and you can't assume that it's because they're eating too much."

Of the first 17 women who stayed with Doctor Jacob's program, eight became pregnant.

"I actually cheated and did my pregnancy test a couple of days early, and then told my husband and we can't tell anybody until we're sure we can have have it confirmed at the doctor's office,” infertility patient Naomi Scianna says. “It was. It was a miracle."

Doctor Jacobs is not doing a research study with his group, so there is no scientific proof that it works.

He says if the program continues to be successful, he expects other fertility clinics will want to begin using it.

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