There is evidence that previous or current eating disorders negatively impact women’s fertility. An undiagnosed, undisclosed, or untreated eating disorder may interfere with the infertility treatment and place the mother and baby at risk for negative health outcomes. Girls and women with eating disorders are at increased risk of failure to ovulate, reduced sex drive, menstrual irregularities such as oligomenorrhea (infrequent menstruation) and amenorrhea (absence of a menstrual period).
Obesity as common complication of BED can also affect fertility. People in the obese category are much more likely to suffer from fertility problems than people of normal healthy weight. There is an increased risk of anovulation in women with an increasing BMI value. Its major effects include a reduction in ovulation rate, a decline in oocyte quality, menstrual irregularities, a decreased pregnancy rate, changes in hormone levels and a rise in miscarriages. Obesity can have particularly damaging effects in young women as they begin menstruating earlier than normal girls, essentially enhancing the defects associated with obesity and fertility.
Eating disorders may result in miscarriages and fetal complications such as prematurity, , malformations, low Apgar scores (method to quickly summarize the health of newborn children), low maternal weight gain in pregnancy, small babies for gestational date, low birth weight of infants, increased neonatal morbidity, hyperemesis gravidarum (condition characterized by severe nausea, vomiting and weight loss) and problems in infant feeding.
The available information suggests that clinicians should inquire about nutritional intake, a history of eating disorders and weight reducing behaviours as part of the routine assessment of patients with the disorders of reproductive function listed above. If an eating disorder is discovered before conception, the woman should be encouraged to delay pregnancy until the eating disorder is treated and effectively under control. If the woman is pregnant, early diagnosis and treatment are essential to reduce maternal and fetal complications. The infants of eating-disordered women should be carefully followed to ensure adequate nutritional intake.
Mothers who have or have had an eating disorder may also create abnormal behavioural patterns when feeding their children, such as irregular feeding schedules, detached non-interactive mealtimes, and use of food for non-nutritive purposes, which may lead to second-generation eating problems.
Because BED is often associated with significant weight gain, it can also affect fertility of men. There is a long known relationship between obesity and infertility in men. Current studies revealed that the risk of infertility increases with obesity grade regardless of age and female partner’s BMI and smoking habits of both partners. It has also been shown that obese couples where both partners are affected are less fertile than those with normal body mass.
It is also well known that obesity is associated with erectile dysfunction.