BONN, Jan. 17, Reuter: Weigh-reducing diets, especially those based on vegetarian, may cause women to have fertility. Problems, according to West German researchers,

A team at the Munich Max Planck Institute for psychiatry has discovered that many weight-reducing diets can disrupt the supply of hormones essential for conception.

Professor KarlMartin Pirke, who led the team, told Reuters tests were carried out on 62 women between the ages of 18. And 30 to find the effects dieting had on their menstrual cycles.

At the end, more than half the group had suffered hormonal disturbances which made conception difficult or impossible. The youngest were most affected.

Pirke said the message of his findings was: “If you want to become pregnant, don’t go on a diet”.

He said women would no longer have to remain infertile only because the doctor never asked them about the real cause of a disturbance, namely their dieting.

Pirke said the extent to which the women were affected depended on their age, the amount of weight lost, and whether they were. On a vegetarian or mixed diet.

To find out how many women go on diets, the team interviewed a random 62 women aged between 18 and 30. Sixty five per cent had followed at least one weight-reducing diet, 20 per cent more than four diets, and five per cent had tried more than 15 diets,

The team then chose another 62 ‘women in the same age range who had never dieted to lose weight, and made daily blood tests over two menstrual cycles.

In first cycle they received an average diet of 2,000 calories a day and no hormonal disturbances were detected,

In the second phase their nutritional intake was lowered to 1,000 calories a day and they proceeded to lose about one kilo (2.2 pounds) a week.

Pirke said during the 1,000 calorie phase, 37 of the women developed hormonal disturbances.

There were two types of disturbances, occurring with about the. Same frequency. In one, no egg was developed in the cycle, and the levels of one hormone Estradiol were low.

In the other, there were lower than normal levels of another hormone, progestin, which protects the embryo during its first weeks of development in the womb. A deficiency in this hormone would seriously hinder development.

Pirke said gynecologists had been aware that heavy dieting affected fertility, but it was not known before that even a small weight loss might affect fertility.

Fertility can be affected even when the woman does not fall below her ideal weight, he said. She often fails to notice any disturbance because the menstrual flow occurs normally.

The younger the woman, the greater the possibility that the weight loss will lead to such disturbances, Pirke said. “We noted that diet caused disturbances appeared much more often in those aged up to 24 years old than in the 25 to 30 age groups”, he said. “The reason could be that the stability of the menstrual cycle increases until the mid40s”.

The probability of a disturbance rises in relation to the amount of weight shed or the further the weight falls below the ideal body

Article extracted from this publication >> January 22, 1988