Eating Disorders Can Harm Women's Fertility08/04/11
THURSDAY, Aug. 4 (HealthDay News) -- Women with the eating
disorders anorexia and bulimia may take a bit longer to get
pregnant than other women, a new study has found.
U.K. researchers asked 11,088 pregnant women to complete
questionnaires at 12 and 18 weeks of gestation. Of those women, 171
(1.5 percent) had anorexia at some point in their lives, 199 (1.8
percent) had bulimia, and another 82 (0.7 percent) had experienced
A larger proportion of the women with the eating disorders took
more than six months to conceive compared to those with no history
of eating disorders (39.5 percent vs 25 percent). However, women
with eating disorders weren't more likely to take longer than 12
months to conceive, the investigators found.
Women with anorexia or bulimia were more than twice as likely to
have received treatment or help to get pregnant, 6.2 percent vs.
The study also found that 41.5 percent of women with anorexia
said their pregnancy was unplanned, compared with 28.6 percent of
women in the general population. This suggests that women with
anorexia may underestimate their chances of conceiving, the
"This research highlights that there are risks to fertility associated with eating disorders. However, the high rates of unplanned pregnancies in women with a history of anorexia suggest that women may be underestimating their chances of conceiving," lead author Abigail Easter, from the Institute of Psychiatry at King's College London, said in a college news release.
"Women planning a pregnancy should ideally seek treatment for their eating disorder symptoms prior to conception and health professionals should be aware of eating disorders when assessing fertility and providing treatment for this," she added.
The study is slated for publication in
BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and
The U.S. National Institute of Mental Health has more about
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