Before learning about nutrition, health and physiology, I was under the false impression that fat is just an 'idle' tissue, without any really important function. How wrong I had been! Our fat tissue is, in fact, an endocrine center which secretes a variety of hormones and mediators.
We can't live a normal life without a good and healthy amount of fat, so no wonder it affects fertility too. Do you know how many women with eating disorders suffer from fertility problems, even long after they are healed? I remember a teacher of ours once told us about a patient she had, a woman who went through many years of anorexia nervosa and later bulimia. Eventually, all of these issues worked out, her weight was fine, her psychological problems were also solved, she got married… and it turned out she can't conceive. Tests have shown that her hormone levels are like those of a woman who is past her menopause. Years of being on the verge of starvation and tampering with her weight did not pass without leaving a trace! Most probably, she will never become a mother. Isn't this sad?
Several studies link obesity to fertility problems as well, especially for women with PCOS. Specifically abdominal obesity may be co-responsible for the development of hyperandrogenism (elevated levels of male hormones in women) and associated chronic anovulation. I haven't been able to find studies which explain in a clear way exactly how being very underweight or very overweight might have effect on our fertility, but it seems the connection is worth investigating.
Not that every woman who suffers from fertility problems has abnormal weight, and not all women with abnormal weight have fertility problems! However, it seems sometimes moderate weight reduction – or weight gain, in cases of anorexia nervosa for example - might help achieve a better hormonal balance and thus increase chances of pregnancy.
Isn't it fascinating how everything in our bodies is interlinked? It gets me thinking about how I should guard this body God has given me, so that I can be able to serve my family more efficiently, and to make it easier for me to bear children and give birth, if this is what God has in plan for me.