By default, going through infertility is quite stressful so the role of exercise should be to optimize its mode boosting, relaxing and anti-depressing effects.This article was featured in HALA Magazine
Whether male or female, fertility is affected by a lot of factors. This includes body weight, lifestyle, and diet amidst others. Now this is a column on exercise so I will confine the discussion to this area.
Getting a healthy amount of exercise can help lower stress, lead to a healthier body, and especially comes in handy when one needs to lose weight. However, it requires a fine balance. There are several ways exercise can impact fertility. It has long been established that women who lack sufficient body mass especially among professional athletes, gymnasts, and even anorexic models can cease to ovulate and menstruate. More specifically, intense cardiovascular exercises such as running, cycling have been implicated as unfriendly baby-making exercises. While several studies have confirmed the link between strenuous exercises and reduced fertility in female animals, the largest published study conducted so far by the Harvard Medical School researchers looking at the relationship between IVF (In-Vitro Fertilization) outcomes and strenuous exercise women found that women who reportedly engaged in intense cardiovascular exercises up to at least four hours per week for one to nine years prior to undergoing IVF were 50 percent less likely to get pregnant.
Strenuous exercise ultimately decreased reproduction chances by negatively impacting three of four key stages of the IVF process: increased wasted cycles because there were no eggs to harvest, increased implantation failure, and miscarriage after embryo transfer.
Another study by researchers at the University of Oxford documents the widespread belief that stress may reduce a woman’s chance of becoming pregnant even without a prior history of fertility issues. By default, going through infertility is quite stressful so the role of exercise should be to optimize its mode boosting, relaxing and anti-depressing effects. Prolonged excessive exercise would rather put stress on a woman’s reproductive system by disrupting hormones and/or affecting ovulation- almost like the body is literally shielding itself from getting pregnant.
To proceed with caution then, if one has to lose weight it is important to have a plan that allows one to work out for about 30 minutes every day with appropriate dietary modification. Even if you love the gym, my advice would be to cut back on the cardio and aerobics. Instead switch to gentle stretch exercises such as yoga, swimming or just taking simple walks.