Laurence Jacobs, M.D., sees many patients who suffer from infertility that is caused or exacerbated by excess body fat. To help these patients, he has developed a unique program known as "Fitness for Fertility." By combining practical exercise options with sensible, healthy changes in diet, patients have been able to shed excess fat, increase lean muscle tissue, and dramatically improve their ability to conceive and carry a pregnancy. At our practice in the Chicago, Illinois area, Dr. Jacobs' fertility diet and exercise program is producing success where other treatments have failed.
Although the Fitness for Fertility program is an unprecedented step toward helping patients improve body composition in order to improve fertility, physicians have been advising overweight infertility patients to follow a fertility diet and exercise regimen for a very long time. This is because there are several adverse effects associated with excess body fat that inhibit conception and a healthy pregnancy.
First and foremost, overweight women frequently have hormonal imbalances and abnormal endocrine function, which results in a disruption of regular ovulation. Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is one specific type of endocrine condition that is generally associated with obesity. In addition, insulin resistance (a condition that can develop into type 2 diabetes) is a common problem for overweight or PCOS patients and further interferes with ovulation. A proper fertility diet meets the nutritional needs of the patient while supporting weight loss and preventing the insulin surges that result in the creation of additional body fat. Laurence Jacobs, M.D., has found that weight loss, by as little as 5 to 10 percent, can normalize hormone function, cause ovulation to resume, and result in spontaneous pregnancy, as well as improved pregnancy rates with ovulation induction and IVF therapies.
Even for obese women who have underlying fertility problems, weight loss can improve the chances of success because excess body fat makes patients resistant to the effects of fertility medications and increases the risk of complications during treatment with assisted reproductive technologies (ART). By following a fertility diet and exercise plan for a period of time prior to undergoing treatment, patients can significantly improve their chances of conceiving.
Furthermore, those women who are able to become pregnant despite obesity face the increased likelihood of complications that can endanger both mother and child.
Laurence Jacobs, M.D., acknowledges that simply advising fertility patients to lose weight is not enough. His program uses a combination of education, support, and practical suggestions to help patients establish a fertility diet and exercise regimen that works for them.
Dr. Jacobs emphasizes that at least 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise every day is necessary to begin building strength and lean tissue while burning excess fat stores. Since finding the time to dedicate to exercise on a daily basis is a major obstacle for many fertility patients, Dr. Jacobs suggests using a weighted vest. See article "Fitness Misconceptions" PDF. The vest is designed to add extra weight to the core of the body while the wearer performs everyday tasks, requiring the body to use more muscles and burn more calories than it ordinarily would.
While the vest can also be worn during purposeful workouts to maximize the effectiveness of exercise, Dr. Jacobs points out that using the vest is not about losing weight quickly. Losing weight to improve fertility is about improving overall health and quick weight-loss methods are not healthy. A slow and gradual change, resulting from an increase in lean body tissue and the improvement of nutrition through a healthy fertility diet is the only way to produce long-term weight loss, hormonal stabilization, and overall good health.
Unfortunately, vast numbers of Americans shudder at the word "diet." We have come to associate this term with restriction, deprivation, and unsatisfied hunger. However, the definition of a diet is simply what an organism eats - healthy or otherwise.
Following a healthy fertility diet is not about deprivation, nor is it about loading up on so-called "miracle foods" that are reported to increase fertility. It is about giving the body what it needs, in the right amounts. The key ingredient is balance.
Fat is necessary to proper body functioning. Without it, the body's systems will not operate normally. However, some sources of fat are better than others and too much fat has adverse effects on the body. The same holds true for carbohydrates and protein. A balanced fertility diet will incorporate each of these in the appropriate amounts, along with other key nutrients. Because even the healthiest and most diverse diet won't necessarily provide all of the vitamins and minerals that the body needs, a multivitamin is recommended as well.
Laurence Jacobs, M.D., works with his patients to develop a fertility diet that can help them lose excess body fat and increase lean muscle at a gradual, healthy rate. While changing eating habits is never easy, Dr. Jacobs can provide practical suggestions and tips to help patients learn how to eat healthier without feeling deprived or restricted.
One of the single biggest stumbling blocks that fertility patients face when trying to lose weight is relying on food to cope with stress and other emotional issues. Struggling with infertility can be a very intense experience and in order to have success with a fertility diet and exercise program, it is necessary to acknowledge and address the impulse to eat in response to emotional upheaval. Although the problem is not likely to go away, recognition makes it possible to redirect the impulse and handle stress in a more healthful way. Dr. Jacobs uses several psychologists trained exclusively in weight management.
Contact the practice of Laurence Jacobs, M.D., located in the Chicago, Illinois area, to learn more about the fertility diet and exercise program that is helping overweight patients significantly improve their chances of becoming pregnant.