If you’ve been trying to conceive, you have probably heard and read about how beneficial staying active is for your fertility. And it is true that getting regular exercise can help with fertility in a variety of ways. It helps with weight management, hormone balance, circulation, and metabolism. So it might come as a surprise that exercise and fertility treatments don’t always mix.
During fertility treatments like in vitro fertilization (IVF), women should hold back on exercise. Light workouts are ok during some parts of an IVF cycle while you should opt-out of exercise completely during others. For clarification on how to handle exercise and fertility treatments, make sure you consult your fertility specialist and keep these guidelines in mind.
1. Ask About Your Fitness Routine Before Starting Treatment Cycles
If you’re planning on starting fertility treatments, it’s a good idea to take some time to prepare before you get started. Preconception counseling and care will help you prepare your body for pregnancy and fertility treatments. One of the things you should talk to your doctor about is your level of physical activity and if you should alter your exercise routine.
There’s a balance that you need to strike when it comes to exercise and fertility. Just enough can benefit you, and too much can work against you even if you’re not in a treatment cycle. As you’ll see as we get into the rest of the guidelines, it’s not a good idea to take on an intense fitness routine during fertility treatments. It’s also not advisable to start a more vigorous routine once you’re pregnant. So, if you want to get in better shape for pregnancy, it’s best to put in the work before you start trying to conceive.
2. Consider Taking A Break from Exercise During Certain Parts of the Cycle
While your doctor may give you the go-ahead for exercising during parts of a treatment cycle, you should refrain from exercising at certain points. Many doctors recommend not exercising at all during the week of egg retrieval. During that stage of treatment, your ovaries are enlarged from being stimulated and exercise may increase the risk of a rare condition called ovarian torsion.
Ovarian torsion occurs when an ovary twists on the ligament that it is supported by. This cuts off blood supply and causes severe pain, nausea, and vomiting. Twisting a lot or moving too vigorously may make torsion more likely. Again, it should be noted that this is rare, but following your doctor’s orders about exercise and fertility treatments will make it even less likely to happen.
Another time you should be extra careful about exercise during fertility treatments is during the two-week wait after the embryo transfer. Rigorous exercise may decrease the embryo’s chances of implanting. So, if you do exercise, it’s important that it’s not a strenuous workout.
3. Avoid High-Impact Workouts
When it comes to exercise and fertility treatments, doctors agree that women should avoid high-impact and workouts during a treatment cycle. Workouts like heavy weight lifting, running, interval training, or other high-impact activities redirect blood circulation to the muscles instead of to the uterus, ovaries, and eggs.
While you shouldn’t be engaging in high-intensity and high-impact activities, you shouldn’t be sedentary either. Aim for light or moderate-intensity activities for short periods of time, such as:
- Yoga (but no inversion)
- Tai chi
- Swimming (but no flip turns while doing laps)
4. Limit The Amount of Time You Spend Exercising
A 2006 study published in Obstetrics and Gynecology found that getting regular exercise before in vitro fertilization can hurt your chances of success. This was especially true of women who exercised four hours or more per week. If you want to exercise, keep workouts to around 30 minutes or so and only exercise two or three times a week.
5. Find Low-Intensity Activities for Stress Relief
If you are someone who enjoys working out and relies on physical activity for stress relief, find other ways to channel that energy. If you are in a part of the cycle when it’s safe for gentle exercise, try some of the things listed above. If you are unable to work out at all during part of the treatment cycle, try finding a hobby like gardening or meditation to use as an outlet.
If you’re worried about exercise and fertility treatments, talk to your fertility specialist about their recommended guidelines because they will have the best information on how to care for yourself during treatment. The physicians at Carolinas Fertility Institute have decades of expertise when it comes to fertility treatments and will have your best interests at heart when making recommendations based on your individual circumstances. To make an appointment, call our Charlotte office at (844) 686-2233 or our office in the Triad at (336) 448-9100.