It’s a no-brainer that staying active is good for your physical and mental health. Working out keeps you in shape, prevents some chronic health conditions, and helps with your mental health. Exercising and maintaining the proper diet are critical for a healthy weight. And even for obese women, it is often recommended that they exercise to increase their fertility chances. Exercising regularly also helps lower stress, which is inevitable when dealing with infertility.
But does exercise affect fertility? While exercise is recommended for anyone trying to get pregnant, it affects fertility. After all, too much of something can be dangerous. But how can you tell if you’re going beyond the limit, and what should you do? Read on to learn more.
How Does Exercise Affect Fertility?
Health care professionals encourage moderate exercise before, during, and after pregnancy for various reasons:
- Exercising before pregnancy is beneficial for pregnant women and helps avoid health risks such as gestational diabetes and pre-eclampsia.
- Exercising regularly builds stamina, making labor less overwhelming for women who remain fit during pregnancy.
- Exercise may affect your ovulation positively – Some women have ovulatory disorder infertility, which is usually caused by hormonal imbalances, PCOS, etc. Adopting a positive low-risk lifestyle, including walking, biking, swimming, or aerobic exercise for only half an hour daily, may improve your ovulation.
- Obese women are usually at significantly higher risk for infertility, miscarriage, and pregnancy-related problems. Exercise is beneficial for obese women trying to conceive. But Very Well Family adds that they need to maintain a healthy diet too by reducing junk food intake and increasing healthy meal options, such as healthy fats, veggies, lean proteins, and whole grains, because they help with weight loss, improving fertility.
- To some extent, exercise is good for women trying to conceive, especially because stress affects the chances of conception. Regular exercise is among the best stress-relievers around, helping improve your mood. Also, the regular morning runs, gym workouts, and evening runs keep you healthy and are good habits that positively affect your fertility and overall health. If there’s any reason why you shouldn’t work out, your doctor will let you know.
So, staying fit is a lifestyle. Exercising consistently ensures that you enjoy the long-term benefits.
How Does Excessive Exercise Affect Fertility?
If you’re exercising and losing more energy than you’re taking in, it means that your body is left with less energy to perform its basic functions. According to Nova IVF Fertility, The reproductive system is highly affected by inadequate energy – that is, body mass and body fat composition affect female fertility. So, it is important to maintain a BMI ranging between 20 – 24.9 for normal ovulation and optimal fertility. Body fat of 17% and higher is necessary for menstruation and 22% for regular ovulation. If the levels go below this, you’ll get irregular menses and ovulatory problems, causing conception difficulties.
Stress from exercise isn’t responsible for reproductive problems. However, energy deficiencies lead to metabolic changes as your body tries to conserve energy. This affects the average reproductive hormones’ production. So, estrogen and progesterone concentrations reduce, causing various exercise-associated menstrual disturbances (EAMD). EAMDs are diagnosed with irregular periods or missed periods for more than three months.
EAMD causes problems, including poor growth of follicles and low endometrial quality, miscarriage, and infertility. To prevent EAMD, it is vital to maintain a healthy body weight and be full of energy.
Too much exercise is also linked to infertility because:
- Low progesterone levels after ovulation results in poor implantation because the hormone is needed to prepare the uterus lining for implantation.
- Hormones affecting ovulation are affected, leading to ovulatory dysfunction.
- The hormone leptin, which affects the absorption of enough calories, and healthy fat and appetite is affected.
How Much Is Too Much?
So, how can you tell if you’re over-exercising? It depends on the intensity and duration. For example, moderate exercise for less than 5 hours weekly boosts fertility in women. However, vigorous exercises may deepen fertility. Strenuous exercise that goes beyond four weekly hours is viewed as intense. They include marathon training, power lifting, CrossFit, running, high-intensity interval training (HIIT), and racquetball.
Also, any exercise can be intense, depending on many things:
- For example, riding a bike feels like moderate exercise until you have to rise fast on a hilly route.
- Aerobics can seem intense, but it can be modified to make it simpler.
- Weight training seems strenuous, but it depends on the weight you lift, the exercises chosen, and the number of reps you finish.
- Running may seem moderate until you do it for more than 5 hours weekly.
There are many factors to consider to check whether the exercise is intense enough to affect fertility. So, it’s better to speak to your doctor. Also, according to LA IVF Clinic, your body knows how much exercise it can take. However, if you’re treating infertility, it’s wise to take it easy.
Sources: LA IVF Clinic, Very Well Family, Nova IVF Fertility
The Truth About How Abortion Affects Your Fertility
About The Author