New data offers some good news on a way to increase fertility if you’re a woman who is overweight.

Recent studies have indicated that fertility and pregnancies are profoundly affected by weight. For example, women with a body mass index greater than 27 tend to have much poorer responses to IVF stimulation and lower fertilization rates. The sad news is they also tend to experience more miscarriages and have fewer live births.

Even being moderately overweight is a risk factor for gestational diabetes and hypertension disorders. Compared with normal weight, maternally overweight is related to a higher risk of cesarean deliveries. Low Apgar scores, macrosomia, and neural tube defects are also more frequent in infants of obese mothers than in infants of normal weight mothers. Maternal obesity also increases prenatal mortality. If there are elevated blood sugar levels in early pregnancy, it can deprive oxygen to the baby and lead to birth other defects.

What can you do if you are overweight to minimize these risks?

Work with your doctor to reduce your weight. Exercise if fundamental. If you are currently undergoing IVF or other assisted reproduction, you should be seeing an acupuncturist. Research has demonstrated that acupuncture can counteract many of the conditions that overweight individuals are at higher risk for. For example, acupuncture has been shown to improve pregnancy rates for poor responders and to reduce miscarriages and ectopic pregnancies.