What Does Healthy Feel Like?
This is a question I encourage all of my patients and clients to consider, especially when they want to get pregnant. It’s a proven fact that a woman at her ideal body weight has improved fertility when compared to her peers who are either too thin or overweight. But that alone won’t guarantee health and body readiness for pregnancy, nor does it mean that being the “right” weight is the same as feeling healthy.
Through the years, I have diagnosed many women with illnesses considered unrelated to their fertility. Once treated, however, these women frequently went on to become pregnant without extensive fertility treatments. This proves to me that fertility is enhanced when a woman is both physically and mentally fit, with no part of her body or mind feeling distressed. Similarly, I have encouraged patients to quit smoking or excessive drinking before undertaking fertility treatments and have seen dramatically improved outcomes once addictions were conquered.
It is well known that women with low body weight and related low body fat frequently stop ovulating and menstruating. The body as a machine is a great analogy; if it’s not well oiled, it can’t possibly work the way that it can and should. In this case, it refuses to support a pregnancy that cannot provide mom and baby with proper nutrition.
There is also evidence that emotional state is a critical factor in feeling – and actually being – healthy and fit for fertility. Case in point, female athletes: It has been widely observed that despite weighing and training the same in the off-season, it is only during the competitive season that some girls start missing periods. This suggests that the stress of competition contributes to the lack of ovulation and supports the idea that feeling healthy in both mind and body is directly related to fertility.
Society does its best to convince us that health looks skinny and “perfect.” Models and actresses – often with additional Photoshop work! – tell us that story over and over again. But a normal BMI is 19-24, and an underweight woman often has a BMI well below what’s healthy. She may be severely deficient in nutrients and adequate body fat. Moreover if she maintains her weight by eating restrictions or purging, then she is psychologically unfit as well.
On the other hand, women at the upper end of normal body weight who might be seen as unhealthy may actually be in good physical shape and have no problem at all with ovulation. So looks can truly be deceiving – people come in all shapes and sizes, and outward appearances don’t always tell the real story.
So what DOES healthy feel like?
Only one person can provide the answer to this question: YOU.
Feeling healthy is as much a state of mind as it is of physical being. When you take good care of your body by eating the right foods, exercising, drinking plenty of water, and getting enough sleep, you also have the energy and positive outlook necessary to forge ahead with confidence on your path to fertility.