HomePregnancyImpact of Obesity and Diabetes on A Couple's Family Planning

Impact of Obesity and Diabetes on A Couple’s Family Planning


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Nowadays, many couples find it difficult to get pregnant and conceive a child naturally. This condition is called infertility, and it can affect both men and women equally.

The main cause of infertility is low sperm count and lower eggs quality. However, there are many underlying medical conditions that can impact men’s and women’s ability to start a family. 

Obesity and diabetes are two such medical problems that can be linked directly to infertility. The prevalence of diabetes and obesity has increased over the past few decades and affects many couples’ family planning decisions. 

Obesity and diabetes mellitus put women at greater risk for mistimed pregnancies and pregnancy complications. To minimize these risks, couples should use effective family planning. 

According to researchers, nearly half of women with diabetes and elevated BMI have an increased risk of miscarriage. Due to decreased fertility, couples are sceptical when it comes to using family planning techniques. Other studies also show a lower rate of contraception among obese women. 

If you want to know more about the impact of obesity and diabetes on a couple’s family planning, continue reading this article.

What is Obesity and How Does it Affect Your Fertility?

Obesity is a medical condition in which there is an excessive amount of fat in a person’s body. There are different types of obesity. It is not only a cosmetic concern but can lead to other health complications.

There are many causes of obesity, but the main cause is consuming more calories and burning lesser amounts of fat. Symptoms of obesity include high BMI, sleep arena and type 2 diabetes and heart disease. 

Obesity can lead to various other health problems like infertility. Obesity and infertility have a direct relationship. A common fertility issue associated with obesity is irregular ovulation and not ovulating at the right time. Without ovulation, a woman can’t get pregnant. 

The female hormone estrone is made in fat cells, and this extra estrogen interferes with ovulation. A woman with obesity is more likely to experience gestational diabetes, cesarean delivery, and a higher risk of birth defects.

Additionally, women with extra body fat are more likely to experience blood loss and infection. Some complications associated with infertility are stillbirth and miscarriage. Obese women are more likely to experience sleep apnea which can slow down the growth of the unborn child and impact the development of the fetus. 

Excess weight can also cause hormonal changes. As a result, women with excess body mass are more likely to suffer from anovulation, which means they fail to release an egg each month. Losing 5-10 per cent of your body weight can help bring back ovulation and improve your chances of conception. 

In addition, women with excessive body mass also have lower rates of pregnancy, which makes it more difficult to transfer eggs. If you are overweight or obese, your chances of conception are decreased. 

Apart from decreasing fertility in women, causes of obesity can also lead to infertility in men. It can cause a decline in sperm count and other problems like sexual dysfunction, endocrinopathy, low sperm quality, etc. 

Why Obese Couples May Take Longer to Conceive?

Obesity has been linked to a 55-59 percent delay in conception. While there are no conclusive links between types of obesity and infertility, a combination of environmental chemicals and lifestyle factors may contribute to the long gestation period.

According to a recent study published in the journal Biological Psychiatry, obese women take an average of two months longer to conceive. This delay is not completely explained by the fact that women who are overweight have a higher incidence of heart disease and diabetes. Obesity is also associated with a hormonal imbalance that may affect male sperm and female eggs.

This relationship was not clear for women who were obese, but the study did find that pregnant women with a high BMI took 55 per cent longer to conceive than couples with normal BMI. In addition to women’s body mass index, the larger the waistline, the greater the likelihood that a woman will take a year longer to conceive than her non-obese counterparts.

Women with obesity have a higher chance of miscarriage than those with normal weight. However, obese couples should also note that men with normal body weights are more likely to conceive. Therefore, it is advisable for couples to discuss weight loss goals with their physicians before opting for any fertility treatment.

Whether obesity is the primary cause or just a contributing factor to infertility, there are numerous medical treatments that can help. For instance, hormone replacement therapy may improve the chances of conceiving compared to women with normal body weights. 

What Is Diabetes and How Does It Affect Your Fertility?

Diabetes is a medical condition in which your blood sugar level increases. Blood glucose is the main source of energy, but when the sugar doesn’t break down, it can lead to problems like diabetes. There are different types of diabetesDiabetes symptoms include frequent urination, excessive thirst, blurry vision, excessive hunger, etc. 

Diabetes can lead to fertility problems in men and women. Uncontrolled diabetes can prevent your embryo from implanting correctly and can also disrupt the production of the hormones that are important for pregnancy. 

Therefore, regulating blood sugar levels is crucial to your fertility. Type I diabetes, in particular, destroys the cells that produce insulin and requires daily insulin injections. Because of this, it is the most serious type of diabetes for a woman to have during pregnancy.

While it can delay fertility treatment and can prevent conception, you can speed up the process by avoiding unhealthy habits and eating healthier foods. If you’ve already been diagnosed with diabetes, visit your doctor for a comprehensive exam at least three months before you try to conceive.

Diabetes also affects male fertility. Diabetes symptoms can lower sperm quality and alter hormones, thereby leading to problems with erection and ejaculation. Type 1 diabetes in men can cause fewer motile sperm and can deteriorate sperm quality over time. Long-term diabetes can lead to blood circulation problems which result in difficulty getting an erection. 

While managing diabetes during pregnancy is important, if you have diabetes and are planning to have a baby, it’s important to get your blood sugar under control. Your doctor may recommend that you get a yearly blood test to keep a check on your sugar levels. 

In addition, diabetes causes retrograde ejaculation, which means that the semen does not reach the reproductive organs. Symptoms of this disorder may include erectile dysfunction and poor sperm quality. If your fertility has declined due to diabetes, you should consider an IVF treatment. The doctor may recommend intracytoplasmic sperm injection to increase the chances of conceiving a baby.

For women with diabetes, high blood sugar may lead to a decreased chance of pregnancy and miscarriage. Women with high blood sugar may also experience irregular menstrual cycles and early menopause. Depending on the cause of diabetes, your doctor may prescribe an insulin or fertility-enhancing drug.

Impact of Obesity and Diabetes on a Couple’s Family Planning

The impact of obesity and diabetes on a couple’s family planning is still an open question. The prevalence of obesity in the general population is increasing, and it is affecting more women than ever. New studies report that both factors affect fertility. Women with diabetes are more likely to have pregnancies that result in preterm delivery. You need to know what causes diabetes and obesity in order to avoid these problems. 

Researchers found that obese women are more likely to have unintended pregnancies than healthy women. This link suggests that the effects of obesity on a couple’s family planning can be significant. 

As more and more people with obesity and diabetes experience infertility, it has a negative impact on family planning. Couples are averse to family planning measures if they have these medical conditions. This often leads to unplanned pregnancies. 

Apart from that, couples with obesity and diabetes that opt for different family planning techniques often find it difficult to conceive and retain pregnancy in the long run.
It is also taxing emotionally and psychologically. 

Although obesity and diabetes can negatively impact fertility, they are not incompatible with each other. While the increased risk of pregnancy is minimal, women who are overweight should be counseled on the risks of intraoperative and postoperative complications. 

The risks must be balanced against the benefits of permanent sterilization and pregnancy hazards. The advantages of both types of pregnancy can outweigh the risks of obesity and diabetes. A couple should discuss the pros and cons of having an unplanned pregnancy.

Men and women with obesity and diabetes with fertility problems can opt for various treatments to improve their fertility. Apart from controlling total body weight and blood sugar, they can go for fertility treatments to successfully get pregnant and give birth to a healthy baby without any complications. 


Diabetes and obesity can have a severe impact on a couple’s family planning as it leads to problems like infertility. Men and women can both face infertility problems if they are overweight and have diabetes. In order to get pregnant and successfully plan a family, couples need to control their weight and blood sugar. It is best to consult a doctor if you have trouble getting pregnant and get tested. It will help the doctors to determine the right course of treatment and help you to conceive a baby.

Pooja N Swamy (M.Sc Biomedical Sciences)
Pooja Holds Master's Degree in Biomedical Sciences from Vellore Institute of Technology. She believes in strong research and clear understanding over the subject. Always determined and focussed with a thirst to learn new things. Hardworking, flexible and grounded to align with the goals.


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