The effect of obesity on human reproductive health and foetal life

Incedal Irgat S., BAKIRHAN H.

Human Fertility, vol.25, no.5, pp.860-871, 2022 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Review
  • Volume: 25 Issue: 5
  • Publication Date: 2022
  • Doi Number: 10.1080/14647273.2021.1928774
  • Journal Name: Human Fertility
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, CINAHL, EMBASE, MEDLINE
  • Page Numbers: pp.860-871
  • Keywords: Obesity, reproductive health, infertility, foetal life
  • Istanbul Medipol University Affiliated: Yes


Obesity in both women and men is regarded as one of the many factors that may contribute to impaired reproductive health. Obesity can be accompanied by several neuroendocrine and ovarian dysfunctions, including chronic oligo/anovulation, menstrual irregularities, subfertility, and the increased risk of pregnancy in women. Insulin resistance, elevated triglyceride and fatty acid levels, and the secretion of adipocytokines caused by the excessive accumulation of adipose tissue associated with obesity adversely affect reproductive functions. Alterations in sperm quality and motility and hormone levels related to a rise in body mass index (BMI) may predispose men to infertility. The mechanisms of action of obesity on male infertility include endocrinopathy, erectile dysfunction, epididymitis, increased leptin and adipocytes, increased aromatase, inflammatory cytokines secreted by fat tissue, and sperm DNA fragmentation. This study reports that an increased BMI may lead to low semen quality, poor sperm motility, and reduced fertilization rates in men as well as anovulation, pregnancy loss, diminished pregnancy, and low live birth rates in women. Having optimal weight with balanced nutrition enables one to maintain a continuity of reproductive health throughout the entire life cycle, which is extremely important in terms of having a healthy embryo, including pre-foetal life, in the continuity of pregnancy and having a live birth.