Obesity In Men Can Lead To Infertility

Having a baby is the single most life-changing event in a couple’s life. In fact, many excitedly go about planning every bit of it as they prepare to take on the mantle of parenthood. But with changing lifestyles and increase in stress levels, there’s been an alarming rise in infertility. And obesity has been identified to be one of the major contributors to that. Obesity was once believed to affect a woman’s chances of bearing a child, but recent cases now point in the direction of men as well in playing a part in infertility.

Dr. Kedar Ganla, fertility consultant physician at a reputed hospital, points out that 40 per cent of infertility among couples is caused by male obesity. “Obese tissue leads to the lowering of male hormone, i.e. testosterone, which directly affects fertility. The rising level of estrogen and the low level testosterone affects sperm making and production. Most of these health conditions arise from hypertension and diabetes, a by-product of obesity. In fact, uncontrolled diabetes leads to abnormal sperm production. Obesity also leads to low stamina, which reduces the urge of having sex,” says Ganla.

He also reasons that obesity causes high amount of stress levels due to bad eating habits, poor physical activity and erratic works schedules. Its common knowledge now that stress makes one eat abnormally and cause weight gain. “A simple picture will tell you that an overweight man will not be able to play with the kid or get involved in a lot of physical activity which is a must for becoming a father,” adds Ganla. Ever since male infertility has come into focus in a lot of cases, a lot of doctors are working on improvising the quality of sperms and suggest simple changes in lifestyle and medications for the couple.

IVF clinics, too, have come out with some sustainable solution for the same, where sperm counts can be regularised by following proper diet and exercise regimen. Dr Manish Motwani, a bariatric surgeon, says, “Apart from infertility treatment, obesity treatment and bariatric surgery plays a very important role in infertility and obesity management.”

Motwani also adds, “Obesity affects sperm count directly. In fact it also leads to decreased libido and erectile dysfunction among males — both are important factors behind infertility. Moreover, it also leads to a reduced number of hormones as well as a direct effect on semen. This affects a man’s chances having a relationship or a normal sex life.”

Keep an eye on the BMI

Obesity is determined by the BMI (Body Mass Index) level of a person, which is calculated as an average ratio of one’s height and weight. A person with a BMI of 35 may be around 30 kgs overweight which poses a potential risk of infertility among males. According to Dr Manish Motwani, overweight men also have a higher cycle of cancellation rate when undergoing an IVF (in vitro fertilisation). This is why fertility doctors recommend overweight men to reduce weight before undergoing fertility treatments. “If all the weight loss options have been tried in the past without experiencing effective results, weight loss surgery should be considered for better chances of fertility. However, if a person can attain a decent BMI level within six months of following a healthy lifestyle with a balanced diet and regular exercise, a surgery can be avoided,” says Motwani.

However, a weight loss surgery or bariatric surgery has proven to be the most effective for individuals with a BMI level more than 32.5 and suffering from associated medical conditions like infertility as well as associated complications like diabetes, hypertension, sleep apnoea. For morbidly obese people with a BMI rating of more than 40, a surgery is sometimes the only solution. Motwani also adds, “Depending on the type of weight loss surgery, a person can lose about 40 to 70 per cent of the extra weight within six-to-nine months after surgery. Ninety per cent are able to their weight loss for 10 years or more. This helps them stay healthy in the first few years of fatherhood, as well as in the years of bringing up their child.

How obesity leads to infertility

1. It reduces sperm count

2. Lowers levels of testosterone

3. Hypertension and uncontrolled diabetes deteriorates the quality of semen

4. Physical constraints in having a normal sex life

5. Lack of interest due to tiredness and stress

Measures taken to regularise fertility

1. Maintain a balanced lifestyle

2. Follow proper diet

3. Ensure you indulge in regular physical activity

4. Start with a fertility treatment only after considerable weight loss for better effects

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