Exercise and Fertility

If you are having troubles conceiving or are thinking about getting pregnant, it is important to be aware of how exercise can influence your fertility. Though most of us never think about it, exercise is actually a key factor in many cases of infertility. Exercising too much or too little can really impact your body’s natural fertility, which can prevent you from becoming pregnant. So, if you are currently undergoing fertility treatments or are just thinking about becoming pregnant, consider the impact that exercise may be having on your fertility levels.


Exercise-Induced Infertility

Sometimes exercise can be a cause of infertility. Many men and women who exercise too much are actually hurting their chances of conceiving a child.

Women and Over-Exercise
Over-exercise is a major cause of infertility in women. Women who over-exercise are at risk for losing too much body fat. Since body fat helps to produce estrogen, women with too little body fat may not ovulate regularly. Many women who over-exercise experience oligomenorrhea, which can contribute to fertility difficulties. Some women even develop amenorrhea, and stop getting their periods entirely.

Men and Over-Exercise
Over-exercise can also affect male fertility. Exercising too much can cause the internal temperature of a man’s testicles to rise. Typically, your testicles remain at a temperature of 96 degrees. If your testicles become warmer than this, sperm begin to die, leading to a low sperm count. Men who over-exercise and become underweight can also experience lower sperm motility and poor sperm morphology.

The Benefits of Exercise
Exercise is an integral part of any healthy lifestyle. When exercise is pursued in healthy moderation, it can actually help to increase fertility. Exercising 30 minutes a day, three to four days a week, can help you on your way to pregnancy. When paired with a healthy diet and good self care, exercise can stimulate fertility and may help you conceive.


Exercise and Weight Maintenance

Exercise can really help when it comes to weight maintenance. Being overweight or obese is often associated with fertility problems. In fact, 12% of infertility cases are due to weight issues.

Female Infertility and Obesity
Women who are overweight or obese tend to have more fat in their bodies. This fat can actually increase the amount of estrogen inside your body. Because 30% of our estrogen comes from fat cells, women who have more fat will produce more estrogen. This can influence ovulation, menstruation, and conception in a negative way. Women who are overweight also tend to be more resistant to insulin. Insulin resistance can force your body to produce excess levels of insulin, which can inhibit ovulation.

Exercise to Reduce Obesity
By exercising on a regular basis women can really help to lower their body fat levels. Women who are overweight or obese should try to exercise moderately in order to help improve their chances of conception. If you haven’t exercised much before, start off slowly, by just adding in a few minutes a day. Focus on activities like:


  • walking
  • cycling
  • yoga
  • swimming


These activities are low impact and therefore less stressful on the muscles and joints. Gradually work up to an exercise program that lasts for 30 minutes, three to four times a week.


Exercise and Stress


Trying to become pregnant can be very stressful, both physically and emotionally. Many couples find that they become extremely caught up with infertility treatments, such as IVF or IUI, and other parts of their lives tend to suffer as a result. Unfortunately, stress is not a good thing to be going through when you are trying to become pregnant.


Stress and Infertility
Stress can really take its toll on your fertility. Stress can make it difficult to be intimate with your partner, making conception unpleasant or even impossible. Stress can also trigger a variety of health problems, including cardiovascular problems and depression. Stress can also interfere with ovulation and menstruation, as well as sperm health and motility.

Reducing Stress Through Exercise
Exercise can be a great stress reliever and is thus very helpful in restoring hormone balance and fertility. Exercise releases endorphins, which encourages your body to better deal with pain and stress. Additionally, exercise can help to restore your sleep patterns, allowing you to stay rested and in good health. Finally, exercise also allows you a little "time off" from frustrating fertility treatment sessions. Regular exercise, especially pilates, yoga, and cycling, can really help to end your fertility woes.


Exercises to Increase Fertility

There has been debate over the years about whether or not certain exercise positions can actually increase your fertility. There have always been old wives tales about the use of certain sexual positions to help increase your fertility, but do specific exercises really help you to become pregnant?

To date, there have been numerous studies on exercise-induced fertility. Some seem to support that specific exercise poses can increase fertility, while others do not. There has been some research done on yoga postures, which suggest that specific poses can increase fertility.

Because yoga poses increase blood flow to certain organs, yoga may help to stimulate ovulation and make the uterus more conducive to conception. Additionally, it has been found that couples undergoing IVF treatment who are also practicing yoga regularly are more likely have successful results. For this reason, many fertility clinics have begun to offer yoga courses, along with other complimentary forms of treatment. If you are undergoing IVF, ask your fertility specialist if they offer any yoga classes for their patients.


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