Lifetime Eating Disorders Tied to Fertility Problems in Women

Women with both anorexia and bulimia nervosa more likely to see a doctor for fertility problems

FRIDAY, Aug. 5 (HealthDay News) -- Lifetime eating disorders, including anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, in women are associated with fertility problems, unplanned pregnancies, and negative attitudes toward pregnancy, according to a study published online Aug. 3 in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.

Abigail Easter, from King's College in London, and colleagues investigated the effects of eating disorders on fertility and attitudes toward pregnancy among 14,663 women enrolled in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children. Data were collected from women with singleton and live births, and were compared between 171 women with lifetime anorexia nervosa, 199 with lifetime bulimia nervosa, 82 with lifetime anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, and 10,636 women from the general population. The main outcome measures included doctor visits for fertility problems, time to conception (greater than six months and >12 months), unplanned pregnancies, and attitudes toward pregnancy at 12 and 18 weeks of gestation.

The investigators found that, compared with the general population, women with anorexia nervosa were significantly more likely to visit a doctor for fertility problems and had more unplanned pregnancies. Women with both anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa were significantly more likely to visit a doctor for lifetime fertility problems, take longer than six months to conceive, and were more likely to have undergone fertility treatment to conceive the current pregnancy. Negative attitudes toward pregnancy were observed in all eating disorder groups, and remained higher at 18 weeks of gestation in women with both anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa.

"Lifetime eating disorders are associated with fertility problems, unplanned pregnancies, and negative attitudes to pregnancy," the authors write.

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