Binge Eating Disorder and Fertility Issues

Woman struggling with Binge Eating Disorder and Fertility Issues

Binge Eating Disorder and Fertility Issues

Eating disorders ravage the body and cause significant harm to the individuals struggling with them.

The health consequences caused by binge eating disorder (BED) make it difficult for the body to function optimally for one life. So, what happens when someone struggling with BED needs their body to care for two lives?


Let’s start by answering the scariest question – will I be able to have children?

Research indicates that this is absolutely possible, showing that “women with eating disorders are often able to conceive despite grave menstrual irregularities, and subsequent to recovery, gonadal functioning normalizes in most cases [1].”

However, it is important to note that lifetime eating disorders are associated with fertility issues [1].

BED causes elevated and alarming physical and emotional stress as well as irregular and abnormal menses, all of which can impact a woman’s ability to conceive.

In fact, it has been suggested that as many as 18% of patients seen in infertility clinics have, or have had, an eating disorder [2].

Whether BED is a thing of the past or a current problem, it is an essential factor to consider, either way, fertility more than likely is affected.

Those individuals who have received treatment for an eating disorder in the past show generally impaired reproductive health while those still struggling with the disorder experienced even further impairment [1].

Men who have past or current history of eating disorders can also experience issues with fertility [2].


For women with BED, conceiving is often only half the battle, particularly if the individual is still struggling with the disorder.

Miscarriages have proven to be most common in women with lifetime BED. A miscarriage results in almost half of their pregnancies [1].

BED can result in polycystic ovary syndrome, diabetes, impaired endometrial receptivity, elevated stress hormones, and oocyte, leptin, adiponectin abnormalities [1]. All of these problems place individuals at elevated risk for a miscarriage.

The Bottom Line

Whether an individual has or once had BED, it is possible to conceive.

Woman sitting on a bridge struggling with disordered eatingHowever, this ability is often, at least, slightly impaired due to complications of the disorder.

This impairment increases depending on the severity and span of the disorder as well as on whether or not it is a current or past problem.

If you have ever struggled with BED, consider contacting a reproductive counselor.

One study recommends “continuous monitoring among women with current or past eating disorders in order to avoid exacerbation of both eating disorder symptoms and unfavorable reproductive outcomes [1].

There are many things that BED can, and will, steal from your life.

You have the strength and resilience to fight it and achieve a happy and healthy life, for you and your baby.

Image of Margot Rittenhouse.About the Author: Margot Rittenhouse is a therapist who is passionate about providing mental health support to all in need and has worked with clients with substance abuse issues, eating disorders, domestic violence victims and offenders, and severely mentally ill youth.

As a freelance writer for Eating Disorder and Addiction Hope and a mentor with MentorConnect, Margot is a passionate eating disorder advocate, committed to de-stigmatizing these illnesses while showing support for those struggling through mentoring, writing, and volunteering. Margot has a Master’s of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Johns Hopkins University.


[1] Linna, M. S., et al. (2013). Reproductive health outcomes in eating disorders. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 46: 826-833.

[2] Miller, A. M. (2016). The lasting toll of an eating disorder: fertility issues. U. S. News. Retrieved on 13 Feb 2018 from

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of eating disorders. These are not necessarily the views of Eating Disorder Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Eating Disorder Hope understand that eating disorders result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an eating disorder, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Published on June 29, 2018.
Reviewed on June 25, 2018 by Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC

Published on

About Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC

Jacquelyn Ekern founded Eating Disorder Hope in 2005, driven by a profound desire to help those struggling with anorexia, bulimia and binge-eating disorder. This passion resulted from her battle with, and recovery from, an eating disorder. As president, Jacquelyn manages Ekern Enterprises, Inc. and the Eating Disorder Hope website.