Fat? Don’t even bother trying to have a baby.

Sandy has done it again – and with a subject that holds a lot of meaning for me.

Reuters reported it as:

Obesity hurts a woman’s chances of conception

Obesity decreases the chances that a woman will get pregnant, and the more obese she is, the worse her prospects of conception, Dutch researchers said on Tuesday. Researchers at the Academic Medical Center in Amsterdam looked at how obesity affects women who are still ovulating but having trouble with conception. The study, published in the journal Human Reproduction, included more than 3,000 couples between 2002 and 2004 in 24 hospitals in the Netherlands.

What they failed to mention was that these were, on average, older women (median age of 32).  They didn’t take into account the ages of the parents that were able to spontaneously conceive (age affects fertility in both women and men).  Neither did they take into account whether the parents were drinking and/or smoking.  And they included couples that were receiving care from infertility clinics – a questionable move, considering that they had written a paper earlier this year stating that they were excluding such couples.

Why does this particular subject speak to me so much?

To put it plainly: my own experiences.  I realize this is just anecdotal evidence, but I was in the “severely obese” category before I ever got pregnant.  And I seem to be have been super fertile.  My first pregnancy?  Only took me two times sleeping with my ex to get pregnant.  My second took much longer, but I suspect that had more to do with him than me (to say that he wasn’t exactly healthy would be an understatement).  And then, after The Hubster and I got married?  I spent over half of the first three years of our marriage pregnant.  I swear, all he had to do was look at me and I’d get pregnant.  The ironic thing of all of this?  Both of my last two pregnancies happened while ON BIRTH CONTROL! (This is one of the reasons why I decided to have my tubes tied after the last child: I couldn’t take the chance of getting pregnant again.  Already people tell me I’m nuts for having four children, and I didn’t want to get pregnant again and risk bringing a child into the world that I couldn’t care for.)

And I know I’m not alone.  Most of the fat women I’ve known in my life are mothers, and never had any problem conceiving.  So when I hear someone make the assumption that just because a woman is fat, she can’t have a baby?  It irks me.  Okay, it doesn’t just irk me.  It makes me downright angry.

Now I’m not trying to say that fat women can’t have problems conceiving.  I’m sure there are fat women out there that have had trouble getting pregnant.  But I don’t believe it has anything to do with being fat in and of itself.  I’d be willing to bet that 99% of women who are fat and have problems getting pregnant are having those problems because of factors that would be there regardless of their BMI.

But for anybody – and especially doctors, who supposedly spent many years of their lives in school to actually study these things – to look at a fat woman and tell her that just because she’s fat she can’t have a baby?  That’s not just wrong, that’s unethical.

And personally, I think it should be grounds for a malpractice suit.


4 Responses

  1. I have had infertility problems, and yes, I have had to fight to be treated well. My first visit to the specialist, he just ordered me straight off the bat to lose weight. Well, I am assertive enough to ask both why and put my foot down about it. He didn’t like that, being the “my word is like that of god” kind of specialist.

  2. I’m sorry you’ve had to go through that. I have known women who’ve had fertility problems, but the ones I’ve known weren’t fat (at least *I* wouldn’t consider them fat, but I don’t actually know what their BMIs were, so I can’t say whether a doctor would have considered them fat or not).

    But I’d be willing to bet that somebody like you (and yes, I’m just guessing here, and I don’t claim to be all-knowing) would have problems even if you were thin. If “they” found a magic pill tomorrow that would make you automatically thin, I bet you’d still have fertility problems. Which still sucks, but that’s my point. People have become so blind to what fat really and truly is that they equate it with every single health problem known to man.

    And that? Is just plain WRONG. And it makes me angry for you and every other faceless, nameless woman who has had to endure treatment like that from doctors.

  3. OMG this is so ridiculous. As a doula, I can tell you that most of the overweight women have conceived more easily than the super thin ones and have actually had an easier time birthing than the over-exercised/active women. The assumptions doctors make about weight are incredibly biased.

  4. I was overweight when I had my first (and only) child. I conceived on the first try and I had him out in just 4 pushes. I was told throughout my pregnancy that I was going to have problems because of my weight but everything went beautifully. no complications at all. Delivery was easy for me as well. I really hate that overweight people are so discriminated against. This article made me feel much better to know that there are others that agree with me.

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