Obesity and time to pregnancy

Dionne C. Gesink Law, R. F. Maclehose, M. P. Longnecker

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355 Scopus citations


Background: Obesity may reduce fecundity. We examined the obesity-fecundity association in relation to menstrual cycle regularity, parity, smoking habits and age to gain insight into mechanisms and susceptible subgroups. Methods: Data were provided by 7327 pregnant women enrolled in the Collaborative Perinatal Project at 12 study centres in the United States from 1959 to 1965. Prepregnancy body mass index (BMI) was analysed continuously and categorically [underweight (<18.5 kg/m2), optimal weight (18.5-24.9 kg/m2), overweight (25.0-29.9 kg/m2) and obese (≥30.0 kg/m2)]. Adjusted fecundability odds ratios (FORs) were estimated using Cox proportional hazards modelling for discrete time data. Results: Fecundity was reduced for overweight [OR = 0.92, 95% confidence interval (95% CI): 0.84, 1.01] and obese (OR = 0.82, 95% CI: 0.72, 0.95) women compared with optimal weight women and was more evident for obese primiparous women (OR = 0.66, 95% CI: 0.49, 0.89). Fecundity remained reduced for overweight and obese women with normal menstrual cycles. Neither smoking habits nor age modified the association. Conclusions: Obesity was associated with reduced fecundity for all subgroups of women and persisted for women with regular cycles. Our results suggest that weight loss could increase fecundity for overweight and obese women, regardless of menstrual cycle regularity, parity, smoking habits and age.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)414-420
Number of pages7
JournalHuman Reproduction
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2007

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors wish to thank Drs Olga Basso and Donna Baird for their helpful comments and insights during development of this manuscript. This research was supported in part by the Intramural Research Program of the National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.


  • Fecundity
  • Fertility
  • Obesity
  • Reproduction


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