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Study: Lifestyle Program Improves Fertility in Women with Obesity and Infertility


A lifestyle intervention targeting women with obesity and infertility is more effective in increasing the pregnancy rate vs fertility treatments, suggests a new study presented at ENDO 2021.

pregnancy, fertility, woman holding pregnancy test


A new study presented virtually at the Endocrine Society’s annual meeting, ENDO 2021, held March 20-23, 2021, found that a lifestyle intervention targeting women with obesity and infertility is more effective in increasing the pregnancy rate vs fertility treatments.

The lifestyle intervention, called the Fit-for-Fertility (FFF) program, was found to “significantly improve the pregnancy rate, especially the spontaneous pregnancy rate when no fertility treatments are required, as well as the live-birth rate,” said lead author Matea Belan, PhD, University of Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada, in an Endocrine Society press release.

Obesity is a known risk factor for infertility in women of childbearing age; and lifestyle changes coupled with a weight loss of 10%-15% have been found to improve the odds of pregnancy in women with obesity and infertility, according to Belan.

To research this further, Belan and colleagues tested the FFF program against usual care (ie, fertility treatments). Researchers recruited 130 women receiving treatment at the fertility clinic of the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Sherbrooke in Quebec, Canada.

The participants were randomized into 2 groups:

1. Intervention group (IG): FFF program alone for 6 months (individual follow-ups every 6 weeks and 12 group sessions), in combination with usual care for infertility after 6 months if not pregnant.

2. Control group (CG): Usual care only from the outset.

The FFF program included individual sessions with a nutritionist and a kinesiologist every 6 weeks. Women in the IG were also asked to attend each one of the 12 group sessions at least once. The group sessions included a 45-minute workshop on topics regarding nutrition, lifestyle changes, and lifestyle habits, followed by another 45-minute session of initiation to different types of activity (eg, walking, circuit training, and step workouts).

Data was collected for 18 months or until the end of the pregnancy for women who became pregnant.

Out of the 108 women who completed at least 6 months of the study, researchers observed an absolute difference of 14.2% (p=0.328) in live-birth rate between the groups: 51% for the IG and 36.8% for the CG.

Also, the spontaneous pregnancy rate (pregnancy without any fertility treatments) was 33.3% in the IG vs 12.3% in the CG.

The researchers also estimated the cost per additional newborn resulting from the FFF program at $12 633 in 2019 Canadian dollars, compared to approximately $15 000 for in vitro fertilization.

“We hope this research will give women with obesity and infertility affordable access to a tailored lifestyle intervention adapted to their condition and their specific needs in order to improve their chances of having a pregnancy and building a family,” concluded Belan in the press release.

For more coverage of ENDO 2021, please click here.

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