Does IVF Cause Weight Gain?
Weight gain during IVF treatment is a common side effect that many women experience. So does IVF cause weight gain? If not, what factors could be causing weight gain during IVF treatment? And why don’t all women gain weight?
To be clear from the start, pregnancy clearly causes weight gain. It is important not to confuse IVF treatment up to the embryo implantation stage as being a culprit for weight gain.
Weight gain during IVF treatment is a real thing. Some women put on weight due to fluid retention during the super ovulation phase of the IVF cycle. In this case, the high estrogen levels are causing fluid retention. Although it can be uncomfortable, the bloated feeling is only temporary. Retaining extra fluid isn’t so much of an issue compared to gaining extra body fat. Once the super ovulation stage stops, the hormones get excreted into the urine and the bloating diminishes. Most will quickly lose the fluid that accumulated and will go back to normal body weight.
TRUE WEIGHT GAIN
Another reason for weight gain during IVF treatment that women experience is referred to as ‘True Weight Gain’. This is caused from an increase in body fat. In this case, it is not clear whether it is the the hormones to blame or something else. In a study conducted including 734 women undergoing IVF treatment, weight gain was correlated to the number of oocytes retrieved but more so correlated to the patients that felt that they were eating more independent of the number of oocytes retrieved Tso LO, 2021. In another study Womens weight at the start and end of each IVF cycle was the same but during the stimulation phase there was a temporary increase in weight. It is important to note that every women is different and for this particular study, this was the average result. While some gained, some also lost weight Bajaj SS, 2022.
EXERCISE DURING IVF
What can go hand in hand with weight gain during IVF treatment is how active someone is and how much food they consume. If is common for women to take it easier on themselves during embryo transfer and are less active because of concerns of exercising affecting successful implantation. Less activity can lead to weight gain. Which can be another contributing factor.
DIET DURING IVF
IVF is stressful and it comes with mood swings. Some women naturally overeat when stressed and some tend to under-eat during times of stress. It all depends on the person and their behaviors in response to stress during IVF.
Not all women experience weight gain during IVF, weight gain occurs as a result of changes in physical activity habits and an eating response from stress. Every woman’s response can be different.
PREVENTING WEIGHT GAIN DURING IVF
Because this is such an intense time of nutrition need, it is definitely not the time to focus on losing weight. Some diets can even jeopardize the chances of becoming pregnant. This is the time time to really focus on eating well. The key is to focus on the root of the issue, stress. Going for walks, meditating, coloring, therapy, etc., may be good options to reduce stress.
It’s important to make healthy food choices the top priority. Making sure you are eating plenty of fruits and veggies. A good suggestion I like to give is to have a piece of fruit that feels like a ‘treat’.
If your hormone treatments are the cause of fluid retention that feels like weight gain, you can expect to lose that weight once the treatments stop.
In summary, gaining weight during IVF is common but does not happen to every women. Fortunately this reduces over time as the most common reason is stress and mood swings triggering overeating during treatment. It is best to focus on eating healthier rather than restricting.