Study Finds Omega-3s May Promote Fertility in Obese Women

University of Colorado researchers show common supplements can improve fertility in obese women, who can have three times the infertility rate of normal weight women

Denver (April 2, 2017) – A study conducted by CU Advanced Reproductive Medicine, a leader in research focusing on the link between weight and infertility, shows strong evidence that dietary supplementation of omega-3 fatty acids can help obese women conceive. The findings were unveiled this afternoon at ENDO 2017, a national conference hosted by the Endocrine Society.

The study shows that in obese women, omega-3 supplementation increases progesterone, an important reproductive hormone that rises in response to ovulation. Progesterone also helps the body support a healthy pregnancy after ovulation and conception occur.

“This shows great promise that omega-3 supplementation may play an important role in helping obese women conceive and deliver healthy children,”

Said CU Advanced Reproductive Medicine’s researcher Dr. Alex Polotsky. “In the past, we’ve sometimes administered progesterone hormone therapy to obese patients who are struggling to conceive, but this does not always produce results.”

Existing research firmly links female obesity to an increased risk of infertility. Multiple studies demonstrate that women with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher are roughly three times as likely to experience infertility as non-obese women. There are several reasons for this, one of which is that obese women often do not ovulate, or ovulate irregularly.

Lifestyle modification is obviously very important for obese women to counteract the negative effects on reproduction, either natural or via treatments such as in vitro fertilization (IVF). But Polotsky said that omega-3 supplementation is emerging as a potential treatment method to bolster these modifications.

As an added benefit, omega-3s are powerful anti-inflammatory agents.

“Obesity is essentially a state of low-grade chronic inflammation,” explained Polotsky, who along with his colleagues at Advanced Reproductive Medicine have conducted numerous research studies on how weight affects fertility. “Omega-3 fatty acids are known to be anti-inflammatory and in this study, we saw inflammation markers significantly reduced among our obese participants.”

Omega-3 fatty acids are widely available as over-the-counter supplements such as fish oil pills. They also occur naturally in foods such as salmon, flaxseed and walnuts.

About University of Colorado Advanced Reproductive Medicine

University of Colorado Advanced Reproductive Medicine specializes in the evaluation and treatment of infertility and reproductive disorders. The center offers each patient a comprehensive evaluation and treatment plan to provide personalized care with the most advanced technology available. Our goal is to make every effort to treat reproductive disorders with simple methods and less expensive therapies. However, in cases where these prove unsuccessful, as a state-of-the-art facility, we draw upon the latest advances and the most sophisticated methods available in infertility and reproductive therapy.