Exercise is as much a part of your health and wellness as diet and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. A brisk walk or bike ride, cardio kickboxing, yoga and strength-training are all great ways to get in shape and manage stress. But what about exercise during your fertility journey? Can it help? Will it interfere with the process? Here we discuss how exercise impacts your fertility, treatment and success.
For those couples trying to conceive, life is certainly stressful. Maybe you blow-off steam by running or circuit training or any number of fitness routines. On really difficult days you may go harder in your workouts than normal. While exercise is excellent for managing mental and physical well-being, certain types of exercise are not always helpful to your fertility treatment.
To Exercise or Not
During most of your fertility journey, you are certainly encouraged to enjoy a light workout, such as a walk or gentle restorative yoga. Exercise helps you manage your weight, balance your hormones, improves circulation and promotes a healthy metabolism. You need to strike a balance however, and always speak to your physician before beginning or continuing an exercise program.
At certain other points of your in-vitro fertilization or intrauterine insemination treatment, your doctor encourages a break from your exercise routine. It is especially important that you hold off on exercise, gentle or vigorous, as you approach egg retrieval time. At this time, in your IVF cycle or prepping for IUI your ovaries enlarge, a typical yet painful side effect of the medication that promotes ovulation. This is called ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, or OHSS. Enlarged ovaries pose a risk for a condition called ovarian torsion. This risk increases when you exercise.
What is Ovarian Torsion?
Ovarian torsion is a rare but treatable risk of ovarian stimulation. When your doctor gives you medication to trigger the release of your eggs very rarely your ovarian blood vessels may swell and leak fluid, which in turn causes your ovaries to swell. Vigorous exercise, twisting and turning as in certain calisthenics, circuit training, kickboxing and even some yoga moves may cause your ovary and portions of your fallopian tube to twist around the ligaments holding it in place. The twisting cuts off the blood supply to the ovary and fallopian tube. Left untreated the tissue may die.
You can avoid ovarian torsion by halting your exercise for a while. Let your doctor advise and follow their advice to the letter.
Limit Exercise During Embryo Transfer and Intrauterine Insemination
Another time to pause your routine is during the two-week period after your embryo transfer. If you must exercise, go very easy as rigorous exercise may interfere with implantation. Most doctors advise their IUI patients to avoid vigorous exercise as it could raise the body’s core temperature above 102, which is detrimental to fetal development. In the days surrounding an IUI, you should avoid strenuous exercise until your physician gives you the go-ahead.
When and How to Exercise During Fertility Treatment
In general, you should avoid any high-impact activities during your fertility treatment. Doctors agree that workouts involving interval training, heavy weightlifting, distance running and the like redirect circulation and interrupt blood flow to the reproductive organs. Stop any high-impact workouts but don’t become sedentary. Here are some suggestions for light-to-moderate intensity exercises:
- Walking (but no power walking)
- Yoga (but no inversion)
- Swimming (without flips or turns)
Also keep your workouts to 30-minute sessions three times per week, maximum.
Less Intense Ways to Manage Stress
Stress in an inevitable part of the fertility journey. If your go-to stress buster is an intense workout, you’ll need to find another way to channel that stress energy. With your doctor’s permission try one of the above-mentioned activities or take on a new hobby such as drawing or painting, gardening, bread baking or something similar. Journal your stress, meditate or speak with a therapist. You absolutely need to manage your stress as it can also complicate your fertility journey.
Before You Begin Treatment
If you’re contemplating fertility treatment and haven’t yet started, you may want to discuss continuing or beginning your workouts with your doctor. It’s absolutely to your advantage to enter into fertility treatment as the healthiest version of yourself. Exercise is fundamental to health and wellness today and over the long term. Be healthy for your fertility treatment, but most importantly be healthy so you can enjoy a long, healthy and active life with your future child.
Let Us Help
At LA IVF we help you find the best ways to make your fertility journey a healthy and successful experience. Contact LA IVF today and let’s begin your journey together.