DENVER, CO -- (Marketwired) -- 07/11/13 -- Women seeking answers to fertility challenges frequently look to reproductive issues as the primary source of problems. However, few women are aware that their own eating or exercise behaviors -- past or current -- may actually be a contributing factor in their inability to conceive. Eating Recovery Center, an international center providing comprehensive treatment for eating disorders, often observes women seeking eating disorders treatment after unsuccessful attempts to get pregnant. For this reason, Eating Recovery Center urges women to evaluate their patterns of eating and exercise for possible disordered behaviors before making the decision to start -- or expand -- a family.
Studies confirm the unfortunate connection between eating disorders and fertility issues. A 2000 survey of women attending a fertility clinic revealed that among women with irregular or absent menstrual periods, 58 percent had an eating disorder. Furthermore, none of these women volunteered this information without prompting. Another study featured in the journal Fertility and Sterility looked at a group of women with unexplained infertility who restricted calories for vanity reasons, but did not meet the criteria for an eating disorders diagnosis. When these women increased their body weight and caloric intake, 73 percent of them quickly conceived.
"An active eating disorder can significantly impair a woman's ability to conceive, as can unhealthy behaviors including starving, bingeing, purging or over exercising that may have occurred over prolonged periods of time in the past," said Ken Weiner, MD, FAED, CEDS, founding partner and chief executive officer of Eating Recovery Center. "Despite the clear connection between eating disordered behaviors and infertility illustrated by the research in the field, many women struggling to get pregnant hide their disordered eating behaviors -- past or present -- from their OB-GYNs and fertility specialists."
As such, Eating Recovery Center offers the following guidance to help women who may be struggling with infertility and eating disorders to understand the impact of disordered eating behaviors on their ability to conceive and seek appropriate treatment.
1. Consult with a doctor before changing diet or exercise behaviors. Many women make changes to their diet and exercise patterns in an effort to be healthier while trying to conceive. However, if women have a family history of eating disorders or a personal history of disordered eating, these seemingly healthful changes could trigger disordered eating behaviors for those with a genetic predisposition toward developing an eating disorder.
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