Infertility is often related to eating disorders. As many as one out of every five infertility problems is due to unhealthy eating habits. Weight loss and poor nutrition leads to hormonal imbalance which affects the monthly menstrual cycle and releasing of eggs which consequently affects fertility. Other infertility factors could be due to poor uterine process, low libido, reduced egg quality – due to polycystic ovary syndrome – and other ovarian complications.
The most common eating disorder is anorexia nervosa. It is a condition of avoiding food to become thin. This condition is due to the fear of getting fat which leads to food avoidance, excessive exercise and taking up an unhealthy food regime. The other eating disorder is overeating. Women such disorders are more prone to miscarriage due to being overweight.
Now let’s discuss the effects of eating disorder on pregnancy. The following points would be especially beneficial for anorexic women.
A pregnant woman who is anorexic exposes herself and her unborn baby to a host of pregnancy and childbirth complications. She should now know that she is eating for two. Her baby does not get enough nourishment if she does not eat well.
If she keeps on avoiding food then it may lead to jaundice, low birth weight, delayed fetal growth, preeclampsia and various other complications. Birth defects like mental retardation and blindness are also not ruled out. Even if the baby is carried through all the trimesters the mother may have problem in breast feeding and may also suffer from postpartum depression.
Underweight or overweight women are prone to amenorrhea which is the cessation of menstruation. The menstrual cycle returns to normal when the woman starts to gain weight and may conceive later on. Women who have eating disorders should be counseled and treated before pursuing any further infertility treatments. Gaining weight is not enough, eating habit should change with a proper healthy food regime.
Women with eating disorders are encouraged to consult a gynecologist before conceiving. They will be ultimately directed to a counselor or nutritionist for a healthy pregnancy food regime. The counseling sessions should be done as long as the disorder is not under control until then they should not try for the baby. It will be good both for the mother and the child to continue this diet even after delivery.