Can You Be “Too Healthy” to Conceive?

In the past decade, the wellness industry in the U.S. has exploded. From the emergence of paleo, Whole30 and gluten-free diets, to the boom of boutique fitness studios featuring high-intensity training and athletic conditioning, our culture is on a high-speed treadmill that only seems to go faster and climb higher. Instagram snaps of the post-spin green smoothie and back-to-back sweat sesh flood our feeds. New apps and devices the track every calorie in and out seem to pop up each day. And the more classes you take, marathons you run, and superfoods you eat, the cooler you are. It’s hip to be healthy.

As a wellness nerd who loves all these new toys, foods, and classes, I get really excited about this trend. I’m also excited that more and more people are getting on the healthy bandwagon, becoming more conscious of what they put in their body and how they move their body.

But as a fertility health coach who has struggled with infertility and who has seen countless others struggle, this unfiltered growth gives me pause.

Let me explain. We know that 1 in 8 couples struggle with infertility. While some infertility cases are due to physical defects such as blocked fallopian tubes, ovarian cysts or endometriosis, others are due to hormonal imbalances in the body. These imbalances can be for a variety of reasons, and for a long time, much of the literature has focused on hormonal imbalances due to people who are overweight, with a BMI of > 25 and less active. For women, being overweight can lead to an increase in testosterone and decrease in estrogen which reduces chance of ovulation, and for men it can lead to decreased sperm quality.

While research has proven that being overweight or obese compromises one’s chance to conceive and carry a healthy pregnancy to term, a new problem–one on the opposite, leaner side of the spectrum–is emerging in scientific literature as a the wellness industry continues to blossom. Which leads us to ask: Can you be “too healthy” to conceive?

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