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Fertility and Weight Gain/Loss Supplements – What is Really Healthy?

By Published On: June 5th, 2012

Maintaining a healthy weight during pregnancy is something that all Mums to be are encouraged to strive for but it is also important that women who are trying to conceive try to maintain a healthy weight as well. If a woman is overweight or underweight her chances of conceiving may be affected.

What is a Healthy Conception Weight?

What the media thinks is a healthy weight for a woman and what the reality really is are two rather different things. The models who walk the catwalk and look like stick insects are no more at a healthy weight than an overweight person is, and being underweight can be as bad for your chances of conceiving and then enjoying a happy healthy pregnancy as it can if you were overweight. One way to try to decide what a healthy weight for a person of your height and build is to use a BMI calculator and even that is not always an accurate indicator but it can be a useful guide. Possibly the best person to help you determine a healthy weight for ideal fertility is your OB GYN who can access you in person and take into account your unique build and your lifestyle habits, something a chart cannot.

Fertility and Being Underweight

If you are considered underweight then there are probably those people who know you who think you are “lucky”. In terms of your general health and your chances of conceiving though that is certainly rarely the case. If a woman is underweight it usually affects her menstrual cycle and sometimes an underweight woman will stop having periods at all, making her chances of conceiving almost nil.

The easy thing for people to say to women who are underweight is that they need to eat more, add a few extra pounds that way, pile the potatoes on their plate or eat an extra dessert. Often though it is far from that simple. For some women an underlying medical condition can prevent her from gaining weight and that possibility does need to be investigated in any female but especially one who is actively hoping to conceive.

Whatever the reason a female is underweight, in trying to gain weight to improve her chances of conception she still needs to maintain a healthy diet, so “pigging out” on junk food is certainly not the answer. Some women wonder about turning to a weight gain supplement to help them gain the right amount of weight but then are concerned that such things may not be good for them either (trying to conceive can be hard and knowing what the right things are to do even harder!)

Most medical experts agree that the answer to that question is that it depends very much upon the type of weight gain supplement that the woman intends to try. Many of the natural weight gain supplements on the market do actually contain things that are great for a woman trying to get pregnant in terms of essential vitamins and minerals but the kind of supplements that are designed for bodybuilders are not a great idea since they also usually contain a number of artificial ingredients and many are packed full of caffeine, not something that is advisable for a woman trying to conceive. The same may be true of some herbal products.

If you are underweight and feel you need a weight gain supplement to help you get to a better weight a better idea is to add a liquid supplement to your diet instead. Nestle’s Neutren Optimum, Ensure Optimum and similar products are readily available and can help you gain weight without artificial stimulants.

The Risk of Being Underweight During Pregnancy

Some women do manage to conceive when they are underweight but unfortunately if they do not find a way to gain the advised amount of weight they are at high risk for having a low weight baby or for having a premature birth, neither of which are healthy scenarios for Baby or for Mum. If you are underweight and pregnant discuss the issue with your OB GYN right from the start and make sure that you follow all of his or her recommendations. Sadly many women see models and movie stars who seem to gain very little weight during their pregnancies and think that this is something they should try to emulate but the simple fact is that it is not.

Conception and Being Overweight

As most women do know being overweight can also seriously damage their fertility and chances of conception. However most women who are overweight are not actually trying to be that way, they are going through the same struggle as millions of people are all over the world and knowing they need to lose weight and actually doing so are two different things.

For an overweight woman trying to conceive though this is not a time for crazy fad diets. Plans that call for you to remove entire food groups from your diet , or to seriously restrict your caloric intake to extremely low levels are rarely healthy for anyone in reality and certainly not for a woman trying to get pregnant as she will more than likely miss out on some of the essential nutrients she needs for a proper, balanced diet.

If you have a difficult time following a balanced diet and exercise program alone doing so with the support of others can be the key. Many women have success with Weight Watchers and similar programs that try to promote weight loss without encouraging a poor diet to meet that goal.

Weight Loss Pills and Fertility

Because it is a problem so many people have the market for “diet pills” of all kinds is still a huge one. Although some of the most harmful substances in the kind of diet pills sold in stores with a prescription or online, things like Ephedra, have been pretty much outlawed it is still safest for a woman trying to conceive to act in this respect as if they were already pregnant and avoid any kind of diet pill altogether, which is the standard advice to a Mum to be. There has just not been enough real research completed into the effects of diet pills and fertility and the risk that a pill may be damaging your fertility is probably not worth it.

Whether you are underweight or overweight and trying to conceive the ultimate source of advice really should be an OB GYN. You don’t have to wait until the happy day that you learn you are pregnant to find one and in general if you are trying to conceive an empathetic and caring doctor and their staff can often be a major source of not only information and advice but of emotional support as well.