Each patient has their own reasons for losing weight. Some have had a health scare, others are aware that they’re sitting on the sidelines of life because they don’t have the energy to join in.
One growing group of patients is women in their 20s and 30s who want to start a family and have realised that their weight is affecting their fertility.
How obesity affects fertility
More than half of Australian women are now overweight or obese, including 35% of women in the peak childbearing ages of 25-35.
If you’re an overweight woman hoping to start a family, you may find your efforts frustrated by weight-related hormonal imbalances and problems with ovulation. If you do become pregnant while overweight, you face a higher risk of miscarriage, pregnancy complications like gestational diabetes or pre-eclampsia, and health risks for your baby.
Obese men hoping to become fathers may find that their weight reduces their sperm count and lessens their sperm quality, potentially affecting their offspring’s health.
Ideally, prospective parents should both be at a healthy weight before conception takes place. Wanting to get pregnant and have a healthy baby can be a strong motivator to lose weight.
How weight loss surgery improves fertility
Weight loss is hard. Your body fights back (most unhelpfully) when you try to lose weight, with hormonal and metabolic changes that can thwart your best efforts.
Weight loss surgery can help side-step the barriers to weight loss. Bariatric surgery changes how much food you can consume and how your body absorbs calories. As the weight drops off, it becomes easier to exercise, creating a virtuous cycle instead of a vicious one.
Your healthier, lighter body now runs more easily, which is good news for your reproductive health with ovulation, more regular periods and increased fertility all reported after bariatric surgery.
Which weight loss surgery is best for pregnancy?
If starting a family is one of your reasons for having bariatric surgery, then it’s important to discuss that with your surgeon who can advise on the types of bariatric surgery and on how long to wait before trying to conceive.
Bariatric surgeries fall into two main types. Some restrict the amount of food you can eat. Others change the way your body absorbs nutrients.
One advantage of a gastric sleeve for pregnancy is that, although you’re eating less food, you continue to absorb nutrients normally (whereas a gastric bypass may lead to vitamin deficiencies that could affect your baby).
So, can you get pregnant after a gastric sleeve? Well, nothing’s certain when it comes to having babies but your odds should certainly improve.
Pregnancy after weight loss surgery
The first step to becoming pregnant after bariatric surgery is time.
After surgery, your body goes through potentially stressful changes and significant nutritional upheaval. You’ll also be trying to create healthier habits, getting used to eating good food and exercising regularly.
You need to give yourself and your body time to get used to these changes before the massive change of pregnancy and parenthood takes place. We usually recommend you wait about 12-18 months after surgery before trying to get pregnant. A pregnancy that occurs too soon after weight loss surgery can have consequences for both the mother and the baby.
We know it’s not easy to wait when you’re eager to have a baby but you’re making good use of this time. You’re getting your body in the best possible shape to nurture a new life. It’s well worth it.
Once your weight stabilises, you can start trying to get pregnant. Your improved weight following surgery means you’re now less likely to experience obesity-related pregnancy complications such as gestational diabetes and high blood pressure.
However, since weight loss surgery has decreased the amount of food that you consume, it is vital that the food you do eat is healthy and rich in nutrients that will support your growing baby. It’s important that your doctors know you’ve had bariatric surgery because you’ll need specific preconception and pregnancy nutritional support and increased monitoring of your baby’s growth and development.
How Life Weight Loss Centre can help
At Life Weight Loss Centre, we can help you to achieve your dream of becoming a parent by improving your weight. We’ll advise you on the different types of surgeries, care for you before, during and after your operation and help you develop new habits that support long-lasting weight loss.
Our experienced dietitian can provide you with excellent dietary advice and practical ideas for tasty food that will nourish you and your growing baby throughout your pregnancy.
No-one’s ever fully prepared for becoming a parent. But you can prepare your body for pregnancy by booking an appointment at Life Weight Loss Centre.
All information is general in nature. Patients should consider their own personal circumstances and seek a second opinion. Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks.