Body mass index restrictions in fertility treatment: a national survey of OB/GYN subspecialists

  • Angela S. KelleyEmail author
  • Sylvia E. Badon
  • Michael S. M. Lanham
  • Senait Fisseha
  • Molly B. Moravek
Assisted Reproduction Technologies



To explore the attitudes of reproductive endocrinology and infertility (REI) and maternal–fetal medicine (MFM) subspecialists regarding the necessity and appropriateness of body mass index (BMI) cutoffs for women seeking fertility treatment.


Members of the Society for Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility (SREI) and the Society for Maternal Fetal Medicine (SMFM) were invited to participate in a survey querying their knowledge of existing institutional or clinic BMI policies and personal opinions regarding upper and lower BMI cutoffs for a range of fertility treatments, including oral ovulation agents, gonadotropins, and in vitro fertilization.


Respondents included 398 MFMs and 201 REIs. The majority of REI and MFM providers agreed with upper limit BMI cutoffs (72.5% vs 68.2%, p = 0.29), but REIs were twice as likely to support lower limit BMI restrictions compared to MFMs (56.2% vs 28.4%, p < 0.0001). Those who supported upper BMI restrictions were more likely to be female and report existing institutional BMI cutoffs. The majority of respondents (99.3%) believed that an official statement to guide clinicians should be issued by a national professional organization.


Although practice patterns widely vary, the majority of REIs and MFMs believe that there should be a BMI cutoff above which women should not be offered immediate fertility treatment. Furthermore, there is a reported need for a written statement by a national professional organization to guide clinical practice and to ensure that OB/GYN subspecialists are providing consistent, fair, and safe recommendations to infertile women at the extremes of BMI.


Body mass index (BMI) Fertility treatment 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

“All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.”


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Obstetrics and GynecologyUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  2. 2.Department of Preventive MedicineNorthwestern UniversityChicagoUSA

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