Fertility & Infertility Exercise

For this information I decided to hit up Dr. Peter Alhering, board certified OB/Gyn and Reproductive Endocrinologist.

Does exercise decrease fertility?

1)  For a pregnancy conceived the ole’ natural way-during the 2 week wait between ovulation and a positive pregnancy test, can a patient exercise just as they were previously?

Normal activity for a given individual should not incite pregnancy problems.

2)  A patient going through IVF or IUI, the weeks leading up to the embryo transfer or insemination, can they exercise just as they were previously?  Even if they were doing intense training?

There is no need to alter normal activity. I believe that is what the stress is: a) making people alter their normal lives without good reason and b) imposing unnecessary restrictions.

3)  A patient going through IVF or IUI, while waiting for their positive pregnancy test, can they exercise just as they were previously?  Even if they were doing intense training?

Patients can assume normal activity.

4)  For a patient that has never exercised before do you recommend exercise prior to a Infertility Procedure?  What about during the process and after embryo transfer?

I always recommend that people exercise…starting the sooner the better.

They should adopt a sound and rational program based upon their current level of activity and health issues, if any.

Infertility and Exercise Research

In backing up all of Dr. Ahlering’s recommendations we will – as always, rely on research!  Some of what you read above may seem shocking as there are so many misconceptions like fit women do not have enough body fat or their commitment to working out is a stress.

-Body fat cannot be the sole indicator for the inability to conceive.

-Most women that workout say that is much more of a stress reliever than stress creator.  The only exception here would be professional athletes, where working out is a big part of their job.  And we all know no matter how fun your job it will create stress at some point.

I also decided it was time to find a more recent study on the fertility of regular exercisers.  It comes from Dr. James Clapp & Catherine Cram’s book “Exercising Through Your Pregnancy” Second Edition.  Ms. Cram is an exercise physiologist specializing in prenatal and postpartum fitness.  She worked with Dr. James Clapp, III, one of the pioneers in pregnancy exercise research.  His research spanned over 30 years – on that note pregnancy exercise studies were so few and far between and he ignited a fire.  Over the last 5 years I would say the research has quadrupled, at least.

So back to my point.  They studied 250 pairs of healthy, physically active women planning pregnancy.  One woman in the pair exercised while the other did not.  Their exercise was defined as continuous exercise for 20-60 minutes 3-5x/week, with intesnities required between 51 and 90% of maximum oxygen consumption or 14-18 on the Borg Scale or between 145 and 190 beats per minute.  Their findings in infertility and exercise were pretty much the same between the control and exercise groups.  “Thus, although exercise can interfere with normal ovulatory and menstrual function, when we look at fertility prospectively in women without a history of fertility problem, we cannot detect an effect over a wide range of exercise performance.”

Exercise will not interfere with fertility.  But to make sure you are in the best pre-pregnancy state:

-Make sure your nutrients are balanced.

-Make sure you are hydrated.

-Make sure you are rested.

-Make sure you are working out in a cool ventilated area.

-Make sure you have your doctor’s permission and do not have any vaginal bleeding or abdominal pain.

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