What is Body Mass Index (BMI) and how does it affect your ability to get pregnant? (BMI Malaysia)

Body Mass Index or BMI is a measurement or tool used to estimate your body fat. It is calculated based on your height and weight. BMI is often measured to determine if you are underweight, normal weight, overweight, or obese. However, do note that BMI does not accurately measure your body fat but only provides the estimated percentage of the body fat. The calculation is done by dividing your weight in kilograms (kg) by the square of heights in meters (m2). Alternatively, you can also use a BMI calculator, where you have to key in your weight and height to get the results. After getting the results, you can check your measurements in the standard weight categories. According to the BMI Malaysia chart, the measurement for normal BMI is 18.6 – 25.0. If your BMI measurement is below 18.5, then it is considered underweight. If it is around 25.1 – 30.0, it is categorised as overweight. Meanwhile, you are considered to be obese If the numbers show 30.1 or higher.

It is no secret that weight problems may impact your fertility. If you are in the category of overweight or obese, do not lose hope as pregnancy is very much possible despite the fertility issues that you may face. It is advisable to consult a fertility doctor if you have trouble getting pregnant within six months of trying. The fertility team will then help you to plan your journey to achieve your dreams to be parents. I have been consulting and helping many patients who had overweight issues to get pregnant over the years. Thus, I believe with proper fertility treatment plans and a weight loss strategy, you have a brighter chance to conceive and welcome a bundle of joy in your life this year.

BMI Malaysia 1

What is The Ideal BMI To Get Pregnant?

A healthy weight with a normal BMI helps to lessen the time and health complications so that you can have a smooth delivery and a healthy baby. If your BMI is high or low, you can still get pregnant. However, it is risky and may reduce the chances of conceiving. Being overweight or having a high BMI is often associated with other medical conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases, and more. It can independently affect fertility too. Hence, some women may need to treat these health conditions before undergoing fertility treatments. You are advised to always consult your doctor before opting for treatments.

How does the weight problem affect fertility in women?

Weight problems can affect your fertility in several ways. Being overweight or obese can disrupt the hormone balance and may cause difficulties to ovulate. Additionally, it also increases the risk of infertility-related conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and endometrial hyperplasia. Being underweight can also cause problems in ovulation. Hence, it is commonly advised to maintain a normal BMI when you are planning to get pregnant.     

How does weight problem affect male fertility?

Being overweight or obese can affect male fertility in several ways. Excess weight may lead to decreased testosterone level and causes sperm count to be low. Some researches have shown that men with a higher body fat percentage tend to have lower sperm counts, and lower sperm motility. These conditions can make it difficult for the couple to conceive naturally. Additionally, weight gain may increase the risk of metabolic disorders such as diabetes that can lead to infertility issues. Obesity may also decrease libido and cause erectile dysfunction in men. Thus, it is important for men to maintain a healthy weight to preserve their fertility.

Can Maternal Obesity Cause Adverse Pregnancy Outcomes? (High BMI & Malaysia Overweight Rate)

Maternal obesity refers to a woman being overweight or obese during pregnancy. Obesity or overweight problems, in general, is a growing concern in Malaysia. According to statistics from the National Health and Morbidity Survey (NHMS) conducted by the Ministry of Health (MOH) Malaysia, the prevalence of obesity among women of reproductive age increased from 15.1% in 1996 to 22.8% in 2015. 

Being overweight or obese can lead to a number of complications for both the mother and the baby if the pregnancy is not well-monitored. Pregnant women with a high BMI can suffer from pregnancy complications like miscarriages, stillbirth, and gestational diabetes. Furthermore, maternal obesity can increase the risk of health problems for the baby such as having a higher risk of getting congenital disorders, growth problems, childhood obesity, or type 2 diabetes. 

Getting good pregnancy care such as regular monitoring of weight changes and practicing a healthy lifestyle helps to lessen pregnancy complications. Thus, do not worry if you are currently obese or have a high BMI while pregnant. Always consult your doctor and follow their advice carefully so that you can lead a healthy pregnancy journey. 

BMI Malaysia 2

 Is it possible for an obese woman with PCOS to get pregnant? 

Yes, it is possible. However, your pregnancy journey may be quite difficult. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome or PCOS is a common condition that affects menstruation and ovulation which leads to difficulty in conceiving. While it is possible for overweight women with PCOS to get pregnant naturally, many of them require additional help to ease their fertility journey. Thus, it is best to consult a fertility specialist and discuss viable options once you are ready to start a family. Having good fertility care and a personalized treatment plan based on your health conditions increases the chances of healthy pregnancy. 

 What Are the Available Fertility Treatment Options for Couples with High BMI? 

Several fertility treatment options can be considered by couples facing overweight or obesity problems to help them conceive. Some of the treatment options are ovulation induction, Intrauterine Insemination (IUI), and In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF). The doctor may also suggest men with obesity or overweight problems opt for Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) treatment to increase the fertility treatment’s success rate. Thus, do not lose hope to build your own family if you are overweight or have a high BMI. Malaysia offers a spectrum of advanced fertility treatments and has been a sought-after destination by couples all around the world to seek world-class fertility treatments and care. 

 What are the benefits of losing weight?

Along with these treatments, the doctor will usually recommend you to lose weight and practice a healthy lifestyle. Losing weight not only helps to reduce the impact on fertility but also minimizes the risks of getting other health complications such as heart disease and diabetes. Furthermore, there are many benefits of losing weight before pregnancy. Among the advantages of having a normal BMI is minimizing the risk of gestational diabetes and reducing the risks of complications during delivery. Pregnant women with obesity or overweight problems tend to have complications during delivery such as Caesarean delivery and postpartum bleeding. They are also at a higher risk to have pre-eclampsia or high blood pressure and other health complications. Thus, it is advisable for women intending to get pregnant to maintain a healthy weight and a normal BMI as stated in the BMI Malaysia guidelines before trying for a baby.  

How to effectively reduce weight? 

Reducing weight can overcome your health problems and increase the chances of pregnancy. Here are some tips to lose weight.

  • Consume a healthy diet

Eating a healthy and balanced diet can improve your fertility and boost your chances of pregnancy. Consuming more vegetables, nuts, fruits, lean proteins, and whole grains helps to achieve a normal weight which will regulate the menstrual cycle and ovulation. A healthy and balanced diet makes a difference in your overall health, even if you are not aiming to lose weight. Thus, make it a habit to have a balanced meal every day to keep your body healthy and fit. 

BMI Malaysia 3

  • Do regular exercises

If you are overweight or obese, you may try to do exercises consistently to reduce weight. Regular physical activity such as brisk walking, cycling, and yoga not only improves overall health and reduces the risk of obesity-related conditions such as diabetes, but also potentially increases your chances to get pregnant. Always consult your doctor if you have any health issues or have any doubts if a certain exercise routine or program is suitable for your health conditions. There are many types of exercise that you can try to help you maintain good physical and mental health. Thus, opt for the best exercise routine for you to optimize weight loss and maintain overall well-being. 

  • Reduce alcohol intake and smoking

The effects of alcohol consumption depend on how much one consumes. Excessive alcohol intake can lower sperm counts in men and reduce ovulation in women. Smoking can also negatively impact your fertility by causing damage to the sperm and eggs. Therefore, cutting down the consumption of alcohol and quitting smoking can help to improve your health and increase the chances of a healthy pregnancy. 

 Making Pregnancy Possible for Couples with Weight problems

It is important to remember that every couple will experience a different fertility and pregnancy journey. What works for your friends, may not work for you. Thus, it is important to consult a specialist if you have been trying for more than six months and failed to get pregnant. Consider consulting the doctor earlier especially if you are under the category of obese or overweight according to the BMI Malaysia chart. They can help you to evaluate your problems and recommend the best course of treatment. Always stay positive and never lose hope. Keep trying different options till you find the best solution for your problem. 

 Learn more about BMI here : BMI

This blog is intended for educational purposes only. All contents here is general in nature and does not take into account your personal circumstances. Please consult with your health care professional to ensure you get the right diagnosis and treatment.

(Everybody has a chance to build a family) by Dr Navdeep