A new study by UK researchers shows that women with eating disorders such as bulimia and anorexia might take a little bit longer to conceive than other women. They also found that a high percentage of pregnancies are unplanned for some of these women.
For the study the team asked 11,088 women between 12 and 18 weeks of pregnancy to fill a questionnaire. They found that 171 women had anorexia, 199 had bulimia and another 82 had both conditions in some point in their lives. Compared to other women a large percent of these women took more than six months to conceive.
Almost 40 percent of the women with eating disorders were found to take more time conceiving compared to 25 percent of women with no history of eating disorders. However the team also said that women with eating disorders might not take more than 12 months to conceive.
The researchers further found that women with anorexia or bulimia were more than twice as likely to have received treatment with 6.7 percent needing assistance to get pregnant as opposed to 2.7 percent of other women.
While 41.5 percent of women with anorexia said their pregnancy was unplanned, just under a third of women of the general population did not have a planned pregnancy. Researchers believe that women with anorexia may underestimate their chances of pregnancy.
Lead author Abigail Easter, from the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London said,
“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,”
The researcher added that before these women take help for conceiving they should get treatment for their disorders and get a healthier lifestyle.
“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 soon to be published in the journal BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
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