obesity and fertilityMany studies suggest that obesity decreases a woman's chance of becoming pregnant through IVF but most of this research has focused on women who use their own eggs. A new study reveals that obese women who receive donor eggs are just as likely to become pregnant as women are with normal weight. Studies looking at outcomes for obese women using donor eggs has had mixed results but this new analysis seems to suggest positive pregnancy outcomes for these women as well.

The lead author and assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Washington University School of Medicine, Emily Jungheim, MD, said that obesity, "does not significantly affect whether a woman will become pregnant with donor eggs." In the press release offered by the University, Jungheim goes on to say physicians should not discourage obese women from pursuing treatment with donor eggs.

Jungheim and her team analyzed the data gathered from previous studies in which more than 4,700 women participated. They found that obese participants had similar pregnancy rates as women of normal weight, and that obese women had similar rates of live births and miscarriages as women who are not obese.

Medical professionals define obesity in terms of body mass index (BMI), which is an estimate of body fat based on a person's height and weight. A BMI of 18.5 to 24.9 is healthy; doctors consider a person with a BMI greater than 30 to be obese. Some fertility clinics have body mass index restrictions.

Jungheim suggests fertility clinics reconsider these restrictions to allow obese women to use donor eggs. "In general, most obese women who want to get pregnant are eventually able to conceive," she said. "We need to find out what specifically goes wrong in obese women who don't. We think other factors besides BMI are involved."