At Virginia Women’s Center, we value the complete health of women. We believe it is important to look at each
woman as a whole – physically and emotionally. While it may seem that your weight is insignificant to your OB-GYN, it can be a telling sign of your overall health as certain signs and symptoms in one area of your body can often signal problems in other areas. Your weight can also alert your OB-GYN to other conditions or diseases for which you may be at risk.
Being overweight or obese can increase your risk of disease and health problems including:
- Cancers, including breast cancer and several gynecologic cancers
- Cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure or high cholesterol
- Gallbladder disease
- Urinary leakage and incontinence
For women preparing to conceive, it’s important to try to achieve your normal weight before getting pregnant. Obesity can affect ovulation, menstrual cycles, and pregnancy rates and outcomes. Obesity during pregnancy can lead to complications such as:
- Birth defects
- Preterm birth
- High blood pressure
- Gestational diabetes
The recommended first step in treating excess weight or obesity is to make lifestyle changes – nutrition and exercise are foundations for a healthy life and important first steps in improving your health. The need for good nutrition and regular exercise changes as you advance through the different stages of your life. Healthy eating and regular exercise during childbearing years can help support fertility and a healthy pregnancy. As you advance through menopause and beyond, healthy eating and regular exercise will help maintain a sharp mind and strong bones.
Eating healthy and reducing calories is essential to losing weight. Start by eating smaller portions, planning your meals in advance, eating fruits and vegetables with every meal, and limiting fats, fried foods, and sugars. Increased physical activity helps you burn calories, increase muscle, decrease stress and depression, and gives you an overall sense of well-being. Start slowly and try to exercise at least 30 minutes five days a week. In addition, work to turn your daily activities into exercise – take the stairs, park far away, do yard work, and clean your house.
While our OB-GYNs can provide basic guidelines on dietary or physical activity changes you can make to improve your health, they may also recommend you consult with other local resources and weight loss specialists. Achieving a healthy weight, or even decreasing your BMI by a small amount, can make a big difference in your overall health.