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Fertility: it’s worth the weight….

Yes I know Miranda Kerr has had a baby and other supermodels have too, but something that I have noticed in my natural fertility practice is that it can be very difficult to help skinny women to conceive.

My definition of skinny is a Body Mass Index (BMI) below 19 or 20 aslow body fat can cause low levels of gonadotrophin releasing hormone which can prevent ovulation. This lack of ovulation can cause some underweight women to have no periods, or to miss periods or to have a luteal phase defect – all of which can affect their ability to conceive both naturally and during IVF.

Fortunately, less than 5% of Australians are underweight and some may not need to gain weight if they are in good health. However, if you are struggling to conceive then I recommend that you try to gain some weight to reach a BMI of 19 to 20.

Poor diet, malnutrition, excessive exercise, eating disorders, low appetite and food aversions can all contribute to low body weight and infertility. If you feel that being underweight could be affecting your ability to conceive, then here are some healthy weight-gain strategies that you might like to try:

Choose more energy-dense foods (yes, the types of foods that people usually avoid when they are on a weight-loss diet). Go for high calorie foods such as full fat milk, avocados, nuts. High fat foods have twice as the energy of protein and carbs and will give you more calories. Although high-fat, high-calorie food is not healthy for most people, they may be essential for someone needing to gain weight. Choose healthy fats such as mono-unsaturated and polyunsaturated rather than saturated fats.

Regular meals daily make meals a priority and take the time to have a meal. Aim for three healthy meals every day and try to eat more food within the first 20 minutes of a meal – such as eating the main meal first and leaving the salad and soup for later.

Large portions you can eat more at each meal by adding extra food to your plate or an extra piece of cheese on your sandwich, having milk from a bigger glass and eating cereal from a larger bowl. Expect to feel full after every meal.

Extra snacks eat more frequently to increase your calorie intake by including snacks in between your main meals – snacking on dried fruit, nuts and seeds is an easy way to add calories.

Juice and milk these drinks are an easy way to take in extra calories – drink more fruit juice and add more calories to your milk by adding in powdered products such as Sustagen.

Exercise to build muscles to gain weight, go for strength training activities and increase your calories to support that exercise. The combination of strength training and eating extra food will help you to gain both muscle and fat. An extra 500 to 1000 calories a day above your normal calorie needs will be enough to support you during exercise and to build extra muscle.

Bon appetite!


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