Women who are obese have a higher risk for miscarriage, lower conception rate, gestational diabetes and a whole lot of complications. If they require a C-section, it's more difficult on an obese patient.
Vancouver, Canada (PRWEB) September 26, 2011
Should infertile obese women be denied in vitro fertilization? The debate on whether Female BMI Should Determine Access to Fertility Treatment, moderated by Dr. Al Yuzpe at the annual Canadian Fertility and Andrology meeting in Toronto, has sparked controversy among ethicists and fertility specialists.
"Women who are obese have a higher risk for miscarriage, lower conception rate, gestational diabetes and a whole lot of complications. If they require a C-section, it's more difficult on an obese patient," explains Yuzpe, co-director of Genesis Fertility Centre in Vancouver.
But the ethical issues around denying women access to IVF based on weight are sparking controversy. Experts disagree on exactly what BMI number should be the cut-off point or whether the BMI alone is an appropriate marker for treating the obese patient. Some dispute whether it is simply discrimination to single out overweight patients for exclusion, while treating women who engage in other health risks like smoking.
Dr. Yuzpe moderated the debate between Dr. Anthony Chueng, a fertility expert at the University of British Columbia, and obesity specialist Dr. Arya Sharma, of the University of Alberta, on Saturday.
British Columbia already has regulations around this issue: doctors are not allowed to perform egg retrievals in women with a BMI over 38 in a non-hospital clinic, which includes all but one (4 of the 5) IVF clinics in BC.
"Women are often devastated when they are told that they can’t have IVF because they are too heavy. We try and direct our patients to resources and support that can help them lose weight," says Yuzpe.
Often just losing 5% of body weight can significantly improve the chances of overweight women conceiving and having a healthy pregnancy. In some cases, women will conceive on their own after such weight loss.
"Our goal is not simply to try to help women conceive, but to have a healthy baby. We would never deny obese women the chance of conceiving. We simply want to optimize their chances," says Yuzpe.
Since opening its doors in 1995, Genesis has grown to be one of the largest IVF clinics in Canada, offering a comprehensive range of assisted reproductive technologies, including IUI, IVF, ICSI, PGD, surgical sperm retrieval, cryopreservation, oocyte and sperm donation.