Relation between fertility and nutritional status: Introduction

Nutrition is recognised as one of the main environmental factors that affect reproductive capabilities. Underweight women may have menstrual disorders and consequently ovulation disorders that hinder achieving a pregnancy. On the other hand, being overweight and obese alters women’s reproductive capabilities. It is clear that fat tissue (adipose) plays an important role in the metabolism of sex hormones and obesity among women appears to affect reproductive capability. The probability of spontaneous pregnancy decreases linearly with increasing Body Mass Index (equation used to measure whether there is excess body weight).

Nutrition during the periconceptional period (the time surrounding the exact moment of conception) appears to be an important determinant of the possible occurrence of congenital malformations, maternal-foetal complications during pregnancy and even long-term consequences for offspring. Women who are planning to become pregnant should have an “extra” intake of some elements which we define later as nutritional supplements.

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