Changes in Ovarian Function in Obese Women May Lead to Poor Reproductive Outcomes

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Changes in the ovaries of obese women with abnormally high fat levels may be the reason why these women take longer to become pregnant, according to a new study.

Changes in the ovaries of obese women with abnormally high fat levels may be the reason why these women take longer to become pregnant, according to a new study in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, published by the Endocrine Society.

Noticing that obese women tended to experience longer times to conception, researcher Rebecca Robker, PhD, and colleagues at Adelaide University, Australia set out to determine if “there are alterations in an egg’s environment in obese women which contribute to poorer reproductive outcomes.”

“Our study found that obese women have abnormally high levels of fats and inflammation in the fluid surrounding their eggs which can impact an egg’s developmental potential,” explained Dr. Robker.

Robker and colleagues followed 96 women using assisted reproduction at a private clinic and measured the hormone and metabolite levels in the follicular fluid in the participants’ ovaries. They discovered that the women “exhibited an altered ovarian follicular environment, [and] particularly increased metabolite and androgen activity levels, which may be associated with poorer reproductive outcomes.”

The researchers found that the fats appear to “alter the very sensitive metabolism of the egg and such changes are known to be harmful to embryo formation. In addition, inflammation can damage cells and when this happens to eggs it can affect embryo survival.”

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