Obesity and the HPO Axis

  • Alex J. Polotsky
  • Manuel A. Doblado


Obesity is an increasingly prevalent problem in the United States. Obesity, defined as a BMI greater than 30 kg/m2 affects nearly 40 % of adults in the United States today. Obesity has several negative effects on fertility and reproductive physiology. Obesity is associated with increased time to fertility and overall decreased fecundity. In addition, obesity seems to lead to changes to the hypothalamic–pituitary–ovarian (HPO) axis. Obesity is associated with changes in luteinizing hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone levels. Levels of ovarian hormones, such as estradiol and progesterone, are altered in obese women compared to normal controls. Levels of leptin and two adipokines, leptin and adiponectin, are affected by BMI. These hormones can modulate both pituitary and ovarian function. Overall, obesity seems to lead to a state of relative hypogonadotropic hypogonadism. This chapter reviews studies that have examined obesity and the different aspects of the HPO axis.


Obesity HPO axis Infertility Androgens Estradiol Progesterone Inhibins Ghrelin Leptin Adiponectin 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Obstetrics and GynecologyUniversity of Colorado DenverAuroraUSA
  2. 2.Department of Obstetrics and GynecologyUniversity of Colorado School of MedicineDenverUSA

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