Eating disorders like anorexia nervosa can affect a woman’s reproductive health and fertility. Many women struggling with anorexia are underweight and exercise excessively in fear of gaining weight. These habits can lead to irregular menstrual cycles, and some women with anorexia may stop menstruating altogether.
When a woman loses her period, regardless of whether she has anorexia, her ovulation cycle stops and she will be unable to conceive a child. However, not all women with anorexia lose their periods. In these cases, it is possible to become pregnant while anorexic, but the pregnancy may be high-risk and complicated for both the mother and the baby.
Although it is possible for a woman to be anorexic and become pregnant, her anorexia will likely directly endanger her baby’s life if it remains untreated. If a pregnant woman has anorexia, she may need to enroll in some form of anorexia treatment to ensure her safety and that of her baby. Pregnant women who have anorexia need more monitoring and medical support than women who do not have eating disorders.
Can Anorexia Cause Miscarriage?
Research shows that women who have histories of eating disorders, including anorexia, are more likely to experience a miscarriage. Studies conducted with pregnant women showed that the women who had bulimia nervosa were significantly more likely than the general population to have a miscarriage. The same study cited that, compared to the general public, pregnant women with anorexia were far more likely to birth small, underweight babies.
Miscarriages are not the only complications that arise from anorexia and pregnancy. Additional risks to the baby include:
- Premature birth
- Breathing problems
- Feeding problems
- Low birth weight
Fortunately, anorexia is treatable with the right care, even during pregnancy. Some of the risks associated with anorexia and pregnancy can be mitigated with a combination of medical support and psychological counseling.
Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.