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It's official - anorexia is now linked to infertility

Women with a history of anorexia or bulimia may take longer to get pregnant, according to new research.

A study of more than 11,000 women found that 39.5pc of those with a history of anorexia and bulimia took longer than six months to conceive, compared to 25pc of women in the general population.

They were also more than twice as likely as women without a history of either disorder to need treatment to help them conceive (6.2pc versus 2.7pc).

However, overall, they were no more likely to take longer than 12 months to conceive than other women.

Reality TV star Chantelle Houghton recently revealed that years of crash dieting have left her infertile at just 27.

"Because of my obsession with food and my crash- dieting when I had bulimia, I've ruined my chances of having a baby naturally," she confessed to Heat magazine. The study was carried out by experts at King's College London.

They found that women with a history of anorexia or bulimia were more likely to have unplanned pregnancies and to experience negative feelings when they found out they were pregnant.

While 71pc of all women were overjoyed or pleased on discovering their pregnancy, those with anorexia and bulimia were more than twice as likely to say 'motherhood means personal sacrifice'. They were also more than twice as likely (9.8pc versus 3.8pc) to report feeling unhappy when they found out they were pregnant.

All women in the study were asked to complete questionnaires when they were 12 and 18 weeks pregnant.

Of the group, 171 women had anorexia at some point in their life, 199 had bulimia and 82 had suffered from both conditions.

Lead author Abigail Easter, from the Institute of Psychiatry at King's, 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.

"Women planning a pregnancy should ideally seek treatment for their eating disorder symptoms prior to conception."

hnews@herald.ie


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