Swati Sharma*, 39, had been planning a baby for 12 years. However, at 151kg, despite all her efforts, she was unsuccessful. The Andheri resident finally underwent bariatric surgery and lost 51kg. She is now five months pregnant.
Having failed to conceive naturally, Sharma changed her gynaecologist and met an in vitro fertilisation (IVF) expert. She underwent three IVF treatment cycles, but her weight came in the way of becoming pregnant. What’s worse, she gained more weight during her treatment. “My weight was 115kg before I started the treatment, but I gained 30kg more because of the heavy dose of steroids. I also started getting high blood pressure, suffered from slip disc, rheumatic arthritis and diabetes,” Sharma, a housewife, told DNA.
“I tried all possible options to lose weight — from visiting dieticians and doing yoga to joining a gymnasium. However, I was unable to control my constantly increasing weight which went up to 151kg,” Sharma said. On her family doctor’s advice, she finally underwent a bariatric procedure. “I lost 51kg. Within four months of losing weight, my messed-up menstrual cycle became proper. I was able to conceive naturally within three months. It is nothing short of a miracle,” she said.
Dr Raman Goel, senior bariatric surgeon, who treated Sharma at Nova Specialty Surgery, Chembur, last year, said: “While it cannot be reported as conclusive research, the connection between morbid obesity and infertility is well known. Morbidly obese women should consider bariatric surgery before IVF or any other infertility treatment. I have seen several cases of successful conception among couples who have been trying for over a decade after the surgery.”
Dr Goel said after the weight-loss surgery, the hormone levels get balanced and women are able to conceive naturally in almost 100% cases. “Gynaecologists are slowly becoming aware of the problem and are referring cases of morbidly obese women to us for surgery. So far, I have handled more than 10 such cases,” he said.
IVF expert Dr Nandita Palshetkar, who is associated with Bandra’s Lilavati hospital, agrees. “It is no longer a secret. Once morbidly obese women come for to us for IVF procedure and we don’t see the desired result, we refer them to a bariatric surgeon. We have seen many women conceive either naturally or through IVF after the surgery,” she said.
Health experts say obesity has an adverse effect on hormone levels, periods and ovulation. It causes hormonal imbalance in the body, making it difficult for women to conceive.