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There are many factors which impact fertility and the success rate of reproductive assistance techniques, such as in vitro fertilization. One of the common contributing factors, especially in countries like the United States, is obesity. Adult obesity rates are higher in the United States than anywhere else in the world, with one in two adults being diagnosed as obese, and one in six children being considered obese.

Over the past few decades, obesity rates have increased significantly, finally drawing attention to the negative health repercussions of being overweight. One of these negative effects is infertility in both men and women. The reasons behind the infertility and obesity link has been researched in several studies, each depicting different reasons on how weight could impact sexual health.

Inflammation in Testicles Due to Obesity

According to an animal study published this year in the Journal of Frontiers in Psychology, it could be the inflammation which accompanies obesity that impacts sexual health for men. During the study, twenty subjects were split into two groups, one being fed a high fat diet, the other a normal diet. The experiment took place over a ten-week period, with measurements occurring weekly. Tissues from both groups were collected and tested to determine a difference between the diets and what it meant physically for the subjects.

Results indicated that subjects who were fed the high-fat diet and were categorized as obese had abnormally shaped testicles. Due to these abnormalities, sperm cells were either abnormal, not able to be produced, or did not perform as normal sperm would. These results suggest that eating a high-fat diet or being overweight could drastically increase chances of infertility and decrease the success rate for procedures like IVF.

Soda Intake and Female Fertility

It isn’t just males who need to watch their sugar and fat intake in regards to fertility; a new study published this year in the Journal of Epidemiology found that sugary drink intake, particularly soda, has a negative impact on both male and female fertility. The study was carried out on 3,828 women and 1,045 men in North America. Women in the study were aged between 21-45 and were followed for 12 consecutive menstrual cycles, or until achieving pregnancy, to determine whether the sugary drink intake impacted the time it took to become pregnant.

Researchers found that both male and female fertility was impacted by the sugary sodas, with an increase in infertility for those who drank more than 7 sodas daily. Diet soda was found to have no link to infertility. These findings suggest that switching to diet soda for chronic soda drinkers could help when it comes time to become pregnant, but cutting soda completely might be a healthier option.

Diabetes and Sperm Production

Roughly 90% of those living with diabetes are also obese, and a study published in the Asian Journal of Andrology in 2015 found that there is also a link between type 2 diabetes and sperm production in men. The study found after rigorous tests that men who were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes had issues resulting in low motility and low-quality sperm. This sparks the argument that men who are suffering from type 2 diabetes due to obesity could benefit from weight loss when trying to reproduce.

Obesity has been found to be unhealthy for both men and women for several reasons, but for those trying to have a baby it has even more negative consequences. If you are obese and trying to reproduce, speak to your physician about possible options to lose weight healthily and increase chances of fertility. Weight loss can also help the success rate of IVF and other reproductive assisting technologies.