Reasonable Weight Loss Goals

By Alice D. Domar, Ph.D.
Executive Director
The Domar Center for Mind/Body Health at Boston IVF

The relationship between weight and fertility has been studied for years, and most researchers agree that women with a BMI between 20-30 have the highest pregnancy rates.

heartscaleIn terms of the success of fertility treatment, women with a BMI below 19 or above 35 have lower pregnancy rates, even with IVF.

Some studies have shown that rapid weight loss prior to treatment can actually decrease IVF pregnancy rates, some studies have shown that a modest loss of 10-14 pounds can make a significant positive difference, and at least one study has shown that weight loss did not make any difference at all.

So what is a girl to do?

A very recent study out of Stanford University adds a bit of clarification to the puzzle. They looked at the outcomes of 39 women who were referred to a weight loss clinic. They found that the women who were able to lose at least 10% of their body weight (about 30 pounds) had a 88% ongoing pregnancy rate, compared to a 56% pregnancy rate in women who lost 5-9% of their body weight and a 33% pregnancy rate in women who lost less than 5% of their body weight.

couplehandsBut there was a contributing factor- women with PCOS were far less likely to be able to meet their weight loss goal than women who did not have PCOS.  In addition, only 8 of the 39 patents were able to meet the goal of losing 10% of their body weight; the majority of the women lost less than 5%.

Weight loss during infertility is a double challenge but with support, education, and the right tools, it is clearly possible. The Domar Center director of nutrition, Hillary Wright, is an expert both in PCOS and in weight loss during infertility.

If your BMI is 30 or above, you might want to consider sitting down with Hillary to create a weight loss plan. This, in conjunction with medical treatment from your infertility doctor, will give you a far bigger chance of conceiving a healthy baby as quickly as possible.

About Alice Domar, PhD

Alice DomarAlice D. Domar, PhD is a pioneer in the application of mind/body medicine to men’s and women’s health issues. She not only established the first Mind/Body Center for Women’s Health, but also conducts ongoing ground-breaking research in the field. Her research focuses on the relationship between stress and different women’s health conditions, and creating innovative programs to help women decrease physical and psychological symptoms.

Dr. Domar received her M.A. and Ph.D. in Health Psychology from Albert Einstein College of Medicine/Ferkauf School of Professional Psychology of Yeshiva University. Her post-doctoral training was at Beth Israel Hospital, Deaconess Hospital, and Children’s Hospital, all in Boston.

She has conducted research on infertility, breast cancer, menopausal symptoms, ovarian cancer, and premenstrual syndrome. Dr. Domar has earned an international reputation as one of the country’s top women’s health experts.

She is currently the Executive Director of the Domar Center for Mind/Body Health, and the Director of Mind/Body Services at Boston IVF. She is an assistant professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Biology at Harvard Medical School, and a senior staff psychologist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

Dr. Domar has compiled an impressive list of accomplishments as a best-selling author, media authority and sought-after public speaker. She is the author of numerous books, on the advisory board for Parents Magazine, Health Magazine, Conceive Magazine, and Resolve, and on the Board of Experts for LLuminari. Two of her books have been finalists for the Books for a Better Life Award. She was also the Series Editor for a series of mind/body books by Harvard Medical Publications/Simon and Schuster. She is the narrator of the DVD’s “Stress and Relaxation Explained” and “Infertility Explained”, both of which won silver Telly Awards.  Dr. Domar has appeared on the Today Show, Good Morning America, CBS This Morning, Dateline NBC, CNN, PBS, and the CBS and NBC Evening News, to name a few. She presents lectures and conducts workshops throughout the US and around the world and went on tour with Oprah in the spring of 2004 and 2005 with the LLuminari team. Dr. Domar was named to the prestigious list of 15 “Women to Watch in 2004″ by Lifetime TV. Her newest book is “Be Happy Without Being Perfect” (Three Rivers Press, March, 2009) and she is currently working on a new book, co-authored with Dr. Susan Love, called “Live a Little” (Crown, December, 2009). She is also a featured expert on the new online social health network