Eat Well Get Pregnant

It has long been noticed that nations afflicted with famine tend to have low or no population growth. If the famine doesn't last for too long a time, the zero population growth at the time of famine is counteracted by a compensatory leap in birth rate once food stores are replenished. Nature has a way of catching up to itself. This has been seen in China in the years 1958-1961, Bengal in 1943, and Ethiopia in the years 1983-1985. Population growth slowed to a virtual halt during the famines but was then followed by a healthy growth within a few years after the crisis was resolved.

Calories Count

But, the effects of famine are seen in populations whose stores of food are great. Working out is the urban equivalent of starving and one University of Pittsburgh study showed that women who work out hard and often find it difficult, if not impossible, to get pregnant. What is the connection between famine and fancy work outs in a gym? Simple: it's the calories that count.

The Pittsburgh study used monkeys to demonstrate their theory that working out can cause infertility. The researchers trained monkeys to work out on a level comparable to marathon training. As the level of exercise increased, but calorie intake remained the same, the monkeys stopped menstruating.

If the energy expended remained the same but calorie intake was increased to between 31%-81% more calories, normal menstruation cycles were resumed. The more food the monkeys were fed, the sooner their menstrual periods returned to normal.

Thin Women Have Underweight Babies.

What happens when women don't eat enough? The hypothalamus in the brain tells the body to stop ovulating and menstruating. It's clear: Mother Nature doesn't think you're eating enough to grow a baby. Dr. Diane Lockwood, medical director of Midlands Fertility Services in the UK says, "Women who are very thin have higher risks of miscarriage and babies born prematurely. There is overwhelming evidence that thin women have underweight babies."

So, how thin is too thin? That would be a body mass index (BMI) of less than 19. Guidelines suggested by the National Institute of Clinical Excellence state that women considering fertility treatments should be within a BMI range of between 19 and 30 because being either over or underweight makes treatment less successful.

Sometimes, even when women gain the much needed weight, their periods need a medical kick-start to resume. This is an instance in which drugs can be useful to set things to right.

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