Weight-loss surgery for infertility

January 12, 2009 4:01:15 AM PST
Many people undergo weight-loss surgery as a last resort to shed excessive pounds and get on ther road to a healthier life.But this procedure is also giving hope to women who are struggling with infertility because they're obese.

Claudia Joy Turner is celebrating more than the beginning a new family. It's also the end to six years of frustration for her mother.

"I'd lost hope of getting pregnant," Brittany Turner said. "That's the hard part."

She says every doctor she saw gave her the same advice - lose weight. She needed to lose 100 pounds.

In the U.S., 30 percent of woman who are of reproductive age are obese. According to one study, 40 percent of those women are less likely to get pregnant.

"It makes it harder to get pregnant because ovaries don't function as well, and any medication you make to get pregnant doesn't work when you're obese," obstetrician Dr. Tim Norwood said.

Doctors are seeing a rise in the number of women seeking weight-loss surgery as an infertility treatment. Brittany is one of those women.

"It does work," Dr. Norwood said. "But I warn them not to get pregnant 12 to 18 months after weight-loss surgery. That's the rapid, weight-loss phase. That's where nutrition is affected most."

While not well-documented yet, some studies show formerly-obese women who conceive after weight-loss surgery are less likely to have pregnancy-related complications or need a C-section. Their babies are born healthier too.

A year after surgery and losing 100 pounds, Brittany became pregnant.

"It's exciting," she said. "My husband actually didn't believe me when I told him."

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