Obesity is a worldwide public health problem, affecting at least one-third of pregnant women.
One of the main problems of obesity during pregnancy is the resulting high rate of cesarean section. The
leading cause of this higher frequency of cesarean sections in obese women, compared with that in
nonobese women, is an altered myometrial function that leads to lower frequency and potency of contractions.
In this article, the disruptions of myometrial myocytes were reviewed in obese women during
pregnancy that may explain the dysfunctional labor. The myometrium of obese women exhibited lower
expression of connexin43, a lower function of the oxytocin receptor, and higher activity of the potassium
channels. Adipokines, such as leptin, visfatin, and apelin, whose concentrations are higher in obese
women, decreased myometrial contractility, perhaps by inhibiting the myometrial RhoA/ROCK pathway.
The characteristically higher cholesterol levels of obese women alter myometrial myocyte cell
membranes, especially the caveolae, inhibiting oxytocin receptor function, and increasing the K+ channel
activity. All these changes in the myometrial cells or their environment decrease myometrial contractility,
at least partially explaining the higher rate of cesarean of sections in obese women.