A healthy weight improves the chances of having a baby. If men or women are overweight or underweight, it can take longer to conceive.

Why? Since it can cause issues with hormone levels that can affect a woman's menstrual cycle and the consistency of her eggs. Being overweight will also reduce the quality of a man's sperm and cause erection difficulties. It can also affect the libido of both men and women.

The Science on Weight and Fertility

Fat cells and body weight play an important role in reproductive hormone production.

Impact of Being Overweight

Fat cells store sex hormones, such as estrogen (the "female" hormone, but it's also in men) and testosterone (the "male" hormone, which is also present in women). If you have a surplus of fat cells, you'll also have excess storage of these hormones. Some sex hormones are also produced by fat cells.

Which sex hormones they release will rely on a variety of factors, including whether a person is underweight, at a healthy weight, or obese. You've probably seen the effect of fat cells on reproduction in young girls. Overweight girls appear to go through puberty earlier than thinner girls. The correlation between fall cells and estrogen hormonal output is why.

Impact of Being Underweight

Teenage and adult women who are underweight or athletic do not have a healthy fat cell count (from a reproductive point of view.) In response, their fat cells produce 2-hydroxyestrone. It's an anti-estrogen that causes the reproductive system to shut down. That's why athletes and underweight women may stop menstruating entirely. And if they are menstruating, their periods may be irregular, or they may not be ovulating.

What You Can Do

The good news is that by making some changes - eating healthy meals and getting some regular exercise, you can work for a better weight to improve your chances of pregnancy and have a healthy baby.

If you or your partner are overweight or obese, even losing a few kilos will increase your odds of becoming pregnant.

Losing weight is not easy, and it takes time and effort. Yet it's possible for most people. Data suggests that if couples get healthier together, there is a greater chance of success. Getting support from a partner, family or friend will help you build up a healthier lifestyle for the future.