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Box 1.  

Deleterious Effects Described in Obese Women Undergoing IVF

Impact of Bodyweight and Lifestyle on IVF Outcome

Authors: José Bellver, MD, PhDFaculty and Disclosures


Abstract and Introduction


Lifestyle has a significant effect on human reproduction. Although great progress has been made with respect to the technical aspects of IVF treatments, the relevance of the parents´ contribution to success rates has been somewhat neglected. Few lifestyle habits have been assessed in relation to IVF outcome. Obesity reduces the possibility of pregnancy and increases miscarriage rates and obstetric complications for both mother and fetus, leading to a lower live birth rate. However, the real contribution of the oocyte, sperm, embryo and endometrium to IVF outcome is still not fully understood. Being underweight also appears to negatively affect IVF results, but again, few studies have assessed this topic. Psychological stress, consumption of caffeine and alcohol, and illicit drug use have been implicated in a poorer IVF outcome, but evidence is inconclusive due to the scarcity and inadequate methodology of related reports.


Infertility is a common problem among the general population, with a prevalence of 9-15% in industrially developed countries.[1,2] The increasing trend of this condition is known to be related to factors such as delaying childbearing,[3] a decline in the quality of sperm over the years[4,5] and exposure to detrimental environmental factors that can be included under the term of 'lifestyle’. Many reports have established a relationship between infertility and under/overweight,[6,7] smoking,[8] psychological stress,[9] alteration of sleep patterns,[10] sedentary occupation,[11] alcohol consumption,[12] caffeine intake,[13] marijuana consumption[14] and exposure to environmental pollutants.[15,16] Similarly, there is increasing evidence of the relevance of under/overnutrition, a smoking habit and psychological stress as prognostic factors for IVF outcome. However, there are very few studies regarding the effect of alcohol, caffeine, cocaine and marijuana on IVF success rates; and almost no reports exist regarding the effects of a sedentary occupation, circadian rhythm or the use of other illicit drugs in women undergoing assisted reproduction for IVF (according to a PubMed search).

The aim of this review is to summarize current evidence regarding the negative influence of lifestyle factors known to undermine IVF outcome, of which obesity - increasingly prevalent in Western societies - will be highlighted. The management of these risk factors could help to prevent infertility or at least to improve the chances of ongoing conception in assisted reproduction technologies (ART). Tobacco consumption will not be covered as it was discussed extensively in a review in the previous issue of this journal.[17]

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