Being morbidly obese, no matter how confident you are, can have a bad effect on your menstrual cycle.

It is no secret that when a very obese woman has been unable to conceive despite a lengthy time period of attempts, her size is to blame when all other tests — including those of her husband — have turned out normal.

“Morbid obesity can have either effect; either to stop menstruation, or to increase it,” says Wendie Trubow, MD, an OB/GYN with Five Journeys, a membership-based wellness organization that uses functional and integrative medicine for evaluation and treatment.

How Morbid Obesity Influences a Woman’s Period

“The mechanism is this: Circulating androgens are converted into estrogen by fat cells,” begins Dr. Trubow.

The more fat that you have in your fat cells, “the more conversion to estrogen.  Ovulation occurs by ‘spikes’ in estrogen and progesterone.

“A constant stream of estrogen inhibits ovulation.  If a woman does not ovulate, but has circulating estrogen, which serves to build the uterine lining, it will eventually shed.

“However, since the woman didn’t ovulate, the shedding doesn’t occur in an organized fashion (which is a typical menstrual flow).

“It occurs in a disorganized fashion, which can occur in varied amounts, at any time.”

So while some morbidly obese women struggle with reduced or ceased menstruation, others experience an increased flow of blood — which is never a picnic.

Solution to Menstrual Issues Caused by Obesity

The solution is weight loss. If you desperately are trying to conceive, you may want to put that plan on the shelf for awhile as you pursue safe weight loss via healthier eating, portion control, aerobic exercise and intense strength training.

Do not go on a crash diet to get the job done faster out of eagerness to conceive.

If you have the opposite problem — heavy periods — again, see if safe weight loss doesn’t correct this problem over time.

dr. trubowHaving practiced functional medicine since 2009, Dr. Trubow works with women to identify causes of their symptoms and then works with them to achieve their greatest health and life balance.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.