PHILADELPHIA – Women with obesity who underwent a lifestyle program targeting healthy eating and physical activity were significantly more likely to achieve pregnancy or become spontaneously pregnant, Jean-Patrice Baillargeon, MD, MSc, reported at the annual meeting of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.
However, women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) in the study appeared to benefit more than did women without PCOS who participated in the lifestyle program, said, from the University of Sherbrooke (Que.).
“Women with PCOS seemed to benefit more from such a program,” said Dr. Baillargeon.
“These benefits occur along with small changes in weight, but important improvements in lifestyle, so lifestyle seems to be more important than weight change here,” he added.
The researchers randomized 130 women to receive theor usual care for infertility. The lifestyle program consisted of a low-intensity weekly intervention for 6 weeks in which patients met individually with a kinesiologist and nutritionist every week and also attended group sessions each week. Women in the intervention did not receive fertility treatment for the first 6 months while on the lifestyle program, and if they did not conceive during that time, they continued the program in combination with fertility treatments.
Patients were included if they were aged 18-40 years and had either infertility and a body mass index of 30 kg/m2 or greater or PCOS and a BMI of 27 kg/m2 or greater. Researchers excluded women planning to undergo bariatric surgery, women who were already undergoing another lifestyle intervention, and women with severe infertility or who had a male partner with severe infertility for whom in vitro fertilization was their only option for conceiving. Researchers collected data from patients at baseline and every 6 months up to 18 months, with additional visits for pregnant women scheduled at the beginning of pregnancy and at 26 weeks’ gestation. They collected baseline data on age, BMI, waist circumference, fat mass percentage, daily energy expenditure, and food frequency using the Healthy Eating Index (HEI).
Overall, 46 women in the intervention group and 52 women in the control group had a research visit at 6 months or pregnancy research visit at less than 6 months; of these, 33 women in the intervention group (65%) and 35 women in the control group (61%) had PCOS. At baseline, both PCOS and non-PCOS groups were similar; however, women in the PCOS intervention group had a lower BMI than did women without PCOS in the intervention group (37 kg/m2 vs. 41 kg/m2; P less than .05), while women without PCOS in the intervention group had a higher fat mass percentage than did women with PCOS in the intervention group (46% vs. 49%; P less than .05).
With regard to weight loss, there was a 2.4% reduction in weight among all patients in the intervention group, compared with the control group (P = .003), with a 2.7% reduction in weight for the PCOS group (P = .015) and a 1.8% reduction in the non-PCOS group (P = .139). However, there were no significant differences between PCOS status and the lifestyle intervention, said Dr. Baillargeon.
At 6 months, the quality of women’s diets in the combined PCOS and non-PCOS group that participated in the lifestyle program showed significant improvement, compared with control groups (HEI, 18% vs. 5%; P less than .001). The PCOS group on its own showed significant improvement with the intervention (20% vs. 4%; P less than .001), whereas women without PCOS showed a nonsignificant improvement with the intervention (14% vs. 6%; P = .055). Daily energy expenditure improved in all groups that received the intervention, compared with the control groups, but there were no significant between-group differences in energy expenditure.
When analyzing fertility outcomes at 18 months, the pregnancy rate for all patients who received lifestyle interventions was 61%, compared with 39% in the control group (P = .02; number needed to treat, 4.5). In women with PCOS, those who underwent the lifestyle intervention had a pregnancy rate of 58%, compared with 34% in the control group (P = .05; NNT, 4.3); although women without PCOS who participated in the lifestyle program had an improved pregnancy rate over women in the control group, the results were not significant (67% vs. 46%; P = .18; NNT, 4.7).
The researchers also looked at the spontaneous pregnancy rate and found women who received the intervention had nearly three times the rate of spontaneous pregnancy, compared with women in the control group (33% vs. 12%; P = .01), while women with PCOS in the lifestyle program had nearly five times the rate of spontaneous pregnancy, compared with the control group (27% vs. 6%; P = .02). Women without PCOS in the lifestyle program had nearly twice the increased likelihood of spontaneous pregnancy, but the results were not significant (44% vs. 23%; P = .15).
Women with PCOS in the lifestyle program also had a higher live birth rate, compared with women in the control group (55% vs. 31%; P = .05; NNT, 4.3). Although women without PCOS in the lifestyle program (67% vs. 46%; P = .18; NNT, 4.7) and women in the study overall experienced higher live birth rates (51% vs. 37%; P = .14; NNT, 7.0), compared with the control group, these results were not significant, said Dr. Baillargeon.
“Such lifestyle interventions in women with obesity could significantly lower costs of fertility treatments, which is important,” concluded Dr. Baillargeon.
The Fit-For-Fertility program was funded by an unrestricted grant from Ferring.
SOURCE: Baillargeon J-P, et al. ASRM 2019. .