October 25, 2012

Male Body Mass Index and Reproductive Potential

Because BMI can affect your chances of pregnancy and increase your chances of having a miscarriage, female BMI is considered when determining IVF treatment. Research is continually being done to define whether the negative affects of hormone alterations from obesity is on egg and/or embryo quality, sperm quality or responsiveness of the endometrium.

Although an increased BMI does not directly affect sperm parameters (volume, motility and morphology) it can affect embryo quality as proven by one study that showed when both partners were overweight or obese (BMI > 25.0 kg/m2), they had a significantly lower cumulative embryo score than couples with both partners being lean. Interestingly, when the male was overweight but not the female, embryo quality was significantly compromised, but not when the female was overweight and the male was within normal BMI range, concluding that hormonal alterations from being overweight may affect sperm DNA, thus impeding normal embryo cleavage and development.

Traditional male factor patients (low counts, poor motility and poor morphology) will have poor quality embryos, highlighted after the embryonic genome turns on and the male contribution to the embryo is involved in the growing embryos’ development. These patients are identified and ICSI is the standard protocol. Along with having enough sperm to inseminate, ICSI allows the embryologist to choose a normal (normal as defined by morphometrics, not chromosomal analysis) sperm to introduce to the egg. Men with a high BMI are not diagnosed as “male factor” so ICSI may not be your course of treatment. Weight loss is an excellent way to be proactive in your treatment; your health is just as important to your embryos as it is to you!

Calculate your BMI using this helpful online tool.

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Darlene Davies

Darlene Davies BS, Embryology