Thursday, February 11, 2010

Why do patients put on weight after IVF ?

The biggest worry many patients have about doing IVF is that it will cause them to become fat. Lots of women who have done IVF will swear that IVF makes them put on weight - and isn't it well known that the hormonal shots needed for IVF treatment cause weight gain ?

This is a myth which I would like to dispel .

It is true that women will put on weight due to fluid retention during the superovulation phase of the IVF cycle. The high estrogen levels do cause fluid retention, but this is only temporary. Once the superovulation stops, the hormones get excreted promptly into the urine and do not have any long term effects . This means that most women will promptly lose the fluid they accumulated, and will go back to their normal body weight.

What about the ones who do gain weight ? The reason for this is simple, and has nothing to do with the IVF treatment ! In order to gain weight, caloric intake needs to be more than caloric expenditure. None of the IVF meds affect either caloric intake or expenditure , which means the equation remains undisturbed.

However , most patients will rest a lot more after their embryo transfer. This maybe because physical exertion causes discomfort ( superovulated ovaries can be large and bulky); while others will deliberately curtail physical activity because they are worried that their embryos may "fall out" of the uterus if they go jogging !

Some women will also eat more during their IVF cycle . IVF can cause tremendous mood swings and overeating is a very common response to dealing with stress. This is especially true if the beta HCG result is negative - food and chocolate can offer a lot of comfort at this time.

Both these factors - the reduction in physical activity and the increase in caloric intake will cause some women to put on weight after IVF. Most of them will blame the IVF hormones for this , but this is not true !
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