Fertility experts have often recommended for women to maintain a healthy weight to improve conception odds. Being either under or overweight can make conceiving more difficult.
A new study out of the University of Sydney reports that even a 12-week intervention can help boost pregnancy rates.
The study enrolled 49 women under the age of 37 at a single center assisted reproductive technology program who had a BMI of at least 30. Women could be undergoing a number of different fertility procedures, including in vitro fertilization, intracytoplasmic sperm injection, cryopreservation, and embryo transfer.
The women were randomly split into 2 groups: a control group that received usual care with recommendations for weight loss and printed material or the experimental group who underwent a 12-week intervention.
The intervention included a very-low-energy diet for the first 6 weeks followed by a less stringent restricted-calorie diet, as well as weekly group multidisciplinary sessions with exercise and behavioral components.
Researchers found that the implementation of the intervention increased pregnancy rates from 14.3% in the control group to 48.1% in the experimental group.
In addition to a increase in pregnancy rates, the intervention group also experienced fewer cycles of assisted reproductive technology required to achieve pregnancy, a reduction in maternal and fetal risk factors, and improvements on metabolic, hormonal, and psychological measures.
Taken together, these benefits correspond to a cost savings of $9,035 Australian ($9,216 U.S.) per pregnancy achieved.
These results should awaken patients and clinicians to the important role of dietary and lifestyle behaviors in achieving pregnancy.