Bulimia Nervosa: Infertility Is Uncommon

Reprinted from Eating Disorders Review
September/October 2003 Volume 13, Number 5
©2002 Gürze Books

Patients with bulimia nervosa who are concerned about their future ability to conceive will be reassured by the results of a recent long-term study. Menstrual irregularities are common in bulimia nervosa, but infertility is not, according to a study that followed bulimic women for 10 to 15 years (Am J Psychiatry 2002;159:1048).

Scott J. Crow, MD and his co-workers studied 173 women with bulimia nervosa an average of 11.5 years after their bulimia nervosa was discovered. At baseline, the mean body mass index was 21.2, and 38.2% of the patients reported regular menses. Irregular menses were reported by 29.5% of the women and very irregular menses were reported by 27.7%. Eight women (4.6%) had amenorrhea.

At follow-up, 83.2% of the subjects were menstruating; 2% were pregnant (5) and 13.9% had amenorrhea unrelated to pregnancy. Amenorrhea outside of pregnancy was associated with a lower body mass index at follow-up (21.4) than was amenorrhea with pregnancy. At follow-up, 74.6% of the women had been pregnant at least once. Of 44 subjects who had never been pregnant (25.4%), only 3 (1%) of the total group had tried to conceive but been unable to do so.

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