Eating disorders, both past and present, may account for up to one in five women seeking fertility treatments. Dr. Mark Trolice of Fertility CARE: The IVF Center notes that maintaining a healthy balance of moderate diet and exercise can help improve fertility.
(Orlando, FL) July 17, 2019—According to the National Eating Disorders Association, 20 million women in the U.S. have an eating disorder at some point in their lives. One potential long-term consequence is infertility; some studies suggest that past and present eating disorders are found in up to 20 percent of women seen in fertility clinics.1 Dr. Mark P. Trolice, director of Fertility CARE: The IVF Center, said that eating disorders and their effect on fertility can be overcome with proper treatment.
Experts agree that one potentially dangerous source of eating disorders is a tendency to combine intense athletic training or exercise with overly restrictive dietary habits. Relative Energy Deficiency Syndrome (RED-S), more commonly known as Female Athlete Triad, occurs when there is a gross imbalance between the nutritional needs of a maturing female body and the amount of energy that is expended during sports or exercise such as dancing. The term “triad” refers to three resulting conditions: disordered eating or energy deficit from insufficient calorie intake; amenorrhea, or the cessation of menstruation; and osteoporosis.
The young women at greatest risk for developing RED-S tend to participate in dancing or sports that classify athletes by weight, or those in which there is a perceived advantage in appearing to be thin.2 Just as in the case of professional athletes, young female athletes burn a considerable number of calories. Unlike professional athletes, however, they sometimes tend to neglect the nutrition and recovery needs of the body. While older methods used different body mass index (BMI) equations for men and women, a new study proposes a unisex equation. A BMI of 22 is in the middle of the normal weight range and associated with the best health outcomes.3
A very low body fat percentage can stress the complex interaction between the brain and ovary leading to decreased hormone levels, resulting in a lack of ovulation and menses, decreased bone density and the danger of fracture. Researchers note that coaches, parents, pediatricians and family practice physicians, as well as athletes themselves, are often not aware of the health risks unique to the female athlete triad.4
“Women with histories of eating disorders may struggle with fertility issues and encounter difficulty becoming pregnant,” Dr. Trolice said. “They may also struggle with re-emerging body image issues during and after pregnancy. Being open with your health care provider and reproductive health counselor is one of the most important ways to cope with and overcome this problem.”
The most recent research concludes that moderate exercise is beneficial to all women and may even increase fertility.5 While studies have come to differing conclusions about the right amount of exercise, Dr. Trolice notes that mild to moderate exercise preconception and throughout pregnancy offers the best chance for conception and a healthy pregnancy.
About Fertility CARE: The IVF Center
Fertility CARE (Center of Assisted Reproduction and Endocrinology): The IVF Center provides patient-centered, evidence-based, and individually customized reproductive care in a comfortable and compassionate setting. This Central Florida IVF clinic is the most successful facility of its kind in the Orlando area, and consistently earns 5-star patient ratings in online reviews. Established in 2003 by founder and director Dr. Mark P. Trolice, it is the only fertility clinic in the country to offer both male and female testing, evaluation, and treatment. Today, the practice encompasses the Center for Male Infertility, headed by a fellowship-trained male reproductive specialist; the Mind/Body Institute, overseen by a licensed clinical reproductive psychologist; and the IVF Laboratory of Central Florida, led by a Board-certified high complexity laboratory director. Fertility CARE – The IVF Center offers a comprehensive range of infertility tests and treatment options as well as genetic testing, egg freezing with fertility preservation, egg donation, embryo cryopreservation, surrogacy and other services. For full details, visit http://theivfcenter.com/.
About Dr. Mark P. Trolice
Mark P. Trolice, M.D., is the founder and Director of Fertility CARE – The IVF Center. He also serves as Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology (OB/GYN) at the University of Central Florida College of Medicine in Orlando and Medical Director of the Egg Donor Program at Cryos International, the world’s largest sperm donor bank. Dr. Trolice is Board-certified in OB/GYN and reproductive endocrinology and infertility (REI), and he is a Fellow of the American Colleges of Obstetrics and Gynecology (FACOG), Surgeons (FACS), and Endocrinology (FACE). Renowned as Orlando’s most successful fertility specialist, Dr. Trolice and his wife battled infertility for over 10 years before adopting their children. This journey gave him unique insights into patients’ struggles and is included in his forthcoming book, “The Fertility Doctor’s Guide to Overcoming Infertility—Discovering Your Reproductive Potential and Maximizing Your Odds of Having a Baby” from Harvard Common Press. Dr. Trolice is a sought-after expert with dozens of broadcast and print appearances in addition to national acclaim as one of America’s Top Doctors® and repeat recipient of the American Medical Association’s “Physician’s Recognition Award”. In January 2019, he launched his “Fertility Health” podcast interviewing nationally renowned experts on vital topics in reproductive medicine. Learn why he has earned the trust of patients and physicians alike: http://marktrolicemd.com.
Freizinger, M., Franko, D.L., Dacey, M., Okun, B., and Domar, A.D., “The prevalence of eating disorders in infertile women,” Fertil Steril, January 2010.
Vadasdi, Dr. Katherine, “The Dangers of Female Athlete Triad Syndrome,” Darien (CT) Daily Voice, June 10, 2019.
Peterson, Courtney M., Thomas, Diana M., Blackburn, George L., and Heymsfield, Steven B., “Universal equation for estimating ideal body weight and body weight at any BMI,” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, May 2016.
Weik, Matt, “Living Well: Being female, athletic involves risks,” Reading (PA) Eagle, May 30, 2019.
Gurevich, Rachel, “Can Too Much Exercise Decrease Your Fertility?”, Verywell Family, January 14, 2019.
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Karla Jo Helms