THOUSANDS of Irish women are jeopardising their fertility with crash diets.
Big Brother contestant Chantelle Houghton has been warned she will not be able to have children naturally due to her obsession with excessive dieting and bulimia.
Doctors told her that she had low fertility and if she wanted to have a baby, she would need to turn to IVF.
The 5ft 7in star's weight has yo-yo'd and at one stage plummeted to just eight stone after she split from her husband Samuel Preston.
Now leading nutritionist Elsa Jones has said that many more Irish women also face fertility problems because they are either underweight or overweight.
"Nutrition deficiency can have a direct impact on fertility," she said. "Being underweight can affect it just as much as being overweight.
"If you are overweight, the body creates excess fatty tissue which leads to excess production of oestrogen which in turn causes hormonal imbalance.
"Being underweight can affect ovulation -- an-ovulation means that you won't ovulate."
Women who suffer from anorexia, bulimia or are on crash diets have also increased their chances of miscarriage if they do become pregnant.
Dr David Walsh, from SIMS Fertility Clinic, said that fertility experts are sending potential parents to nutritionists before they embark on a course of IVF. But he said that extreme dieting could have a negative effect on fertility. "If someone has an eating disorder, it will affect the way they get and stay pregnant," he said.
But it's not all bad news, according to the nutritionist who stars on TV3's How Healthy Are You?
"I think more and more doctors and fertility specialists are beginning to see the impact of lifestyle factors on fertility," said Elsa,.
"A lot of times, people are jumping in very quickly into IVF without addressing the factors such as lifestyle, stress and diet."