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The weighty issue of BMI and infertility

BMI. Body mass index. Infertility. Rugby teams.

What do they all have in common?


BMI measures kg/m squared and it is used by health professionals, doctors, sporting professionals and many others to estimate how healthy you are.

When it comes to accessing fertility treatment, you soon learn that your own BMI can be the one thing that stops you even starting treatment. Clinics usually require a BMI of between 19 and 30 before they will start to offer you treatment, especially IVF and ICSI. So, too low means no treatment. Too high means no treatment.

"Ok. So just lose the weight" say many people, often those not in the #ttccommunity . Well. What a great idea! Here are the problems.

  • BMI is not a reliable indicator of health. Rugby teams, athletes and quite a few normal fit folk have a high BMI because of their muscle mass. The BMI measure does not distinguish between the weight of your muscle or the weight of your fat. Weight (your kg's) is weight. So, before you even start a number of people question the fairness of even using BMI in the first place.

  • Weight loss is hard. And throw in infertility issues, it is even harder. PCOS can interfere with your blood sugar levels making it even harder to lose weight. Endometriosis can make it almost impossible to work out some days. The pain felt by sufferers of endo is very real and very painful. Just getting off the sofa can be a real achievement so getting in a workout is very tough. Making healthy food choices is tough.

  • Weight loss is hard. We are sold this idea it is easy. This is a real problem because you assume that the weight will just drop off, with just a little bit of effort and not a low of exercise. Weight loss is hard. It can be really hard. If it were easy, no one would need support groups, trainers, fancy diets, surgery. This means that you have to be ready to fight for it. You have to be mentally prepared and prepared to find things hard. This is why having a personal trainer and a supportive community is key.

  • Many clinics will offer you very little to no support. They will see your BMI is too high and dismiss you saying "come back when you have lost weight". How demeaning. How embarrassing. How demotivating. This can effect your mental health and demotivate you before you have even walked out the door.

  • If your BMI is too low, it can be very tricky to increase it. There is very little support in this area and guidance is very much needed when figuring out how to increase your BMI in a healthy way.

This journey is complicated. I wish any of you trying to increase or lower your BMI the very best of luck. Get in touch if you would like support, I'd love to help.

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