In the last few years, weight-loss surgery has become more common. Celebrities such as Carnie Wilson and Al Roker have spoken publicly about having these operations and their reasons for doing so. The number of women in their childbearing years having this surgery is rising.
The most common weight-loss surgery is called "gastric bypass." In this operation, the surgeon staples the stomach across the top and leaves a small pouch that can hold only a small amount of food. Then the surgeon cuts a part of the intestine and sews it onto the pouch. This procedure limits the patient's ability to absorb calories from food.
Early reports of women who became pregnant after weight-loss surgery warned of possible complications. Problems included bleeding in the woman's stomach or intestines, anemia and limited growth of the baby in the uterus.
More recent studies are more reassuring. They suggest that weight-loss surgery may help protect obese women and their babies from these health problems during pregnancy:
This article is based, in part, on Committee Opinion 315 (September 2005) produced by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG).
Last reviewed December 2005
Dad's exposure to harmful chemicals and substances before conception or during his partner's pregnancy can affect his children. Harmful exposures can include drugs (prescription, over-the-counter and illegal drugs), alcohol, cigarettes, cigarette smoke, chemotherapy and radiation. They also include exposure to lead, mercury and pesticides.
Unlike mom's exposures, dad's exposures do not appear to cause birth defects. They can, however, damage a man's sperm quality, causing fertility problems and miscarriage. Some exposures may cause genetic changes in sperm that may increase the risk of childhood cancer. Cancer treatments, like chemotherapy and radiation, can seriously alter sperm, at least for a few months post treatment. Some men choose to bank their sperm to preserve its integrity before they receive treatment. If you have a question about a specific exposure, contact the Organization of Teratology Information Specialists at www.mothertobaby.org/.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a medical condition that can affect a woman's menstrual cycle, hormones, heart, blood vessels, appearance (especially excessive hair growth) and the ability to have children. Although women do make small levels of androgens, also called male hormones, women with PCOS typically have high levels of androgens. This creates a hormonal disorder that affects ovulation and fertility. PCOS can cause many infertility cases. However, with the right treatment, many women have been able to get pregnant.
Women with PCOS often have trouble keeping a healthy weight. Having a healthy weight and increasing physical activity will help maintain ovulation and fertility. It'll also help prevent other complications like diabetes and heart disease. Your health care provider might consider the following treatments to help you get pregnant.
- Medications to help improve insulin resistance and ovulation
- Medication to induce ovulation
Every woman's menstrual cycle is different. Some women have their cycle like clockwork. Others have trouble knowing when it's going to happen. If you have only slight variations from month to month, but you have your menstrual period at least once every 25 to 35 days, this could be normal. However, if your cycle is absent for more than 2 months, you bleed too little or too much and you can't predict when it's going to happen, talk to your health provider. Having an irregular menstrual cycle may mean that ovulation isn't happening or it's happening only a few times a year. This will affect your ability to get pregnant. Your health provider will probably check your thyroid, pituitary and adrenal glands. After a checkup your health provider will discuss your treatment options.