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They Say – Should Obesity Be a Factor in IVF?

676878_88902670When considering whether or not a woman is a good candidate for IVF, should obesity be a factor?

In a new position statement, The European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology suggests that obesity could be a factor in decided whether a woman was healthy enough for IVF, alongside other lifestyle factors like excessive drinking and smoking.

The paper, which is published in this month’s Human Reproduction made five recommendations regarding women and IVF, including outright refusal to treat women who don’t reduce their alcohol consumption below moderate levels.

But they also recommended further research into the effects of obesity on fertility, suggesting that morbidly and severely obese women may eventually be asked to lose weight before attempting treatment. Obesity can affect ovulation, and obese women are also at special risk of complications during pregnancy.

Whenever science and social matters meet, it’s a touchy subject. Asking women to quit drinking excessively — a habit that clearly puts the fetus in danger — is clear enough. But asking a woman to lower her BMI feels more like a gray area. Larger women who exercise and eat well can be very healthy reproductively, and plenty of overweight women go on to have healthy pregnancies and babies.

Smoking is a third lifestyle factor the group touched upon, but like weight loss, they made no direct recommendation. What do you think: How big of a role should lifestyle factors play in IVF?

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