People participate in sports for many different reasons. Competition can be a fun way to challenge yourself to do better, athletic endeavors offer a great way to stay fit, and slamming a tennis ball over the net or making that perfect drive onto the green just feels good. Whether you’re a seasoned athlete or weekend warrior, sports offer plenty of benefits for mind, body, and soul.
Women undergoing fertility treatment often wonder how much is too much when it comes to athletics. Can some recreational sports interfere with fertility treatment? Obviously that will depend on the degree of physical effort, as well as your own conditioning, but, in short, yes there are certain athletic endeavors that may compromise your fertility, and some which can be considered very much “off limits” when you begin treatment for infertility.
Risk of Ovarian Injury
When you begin fertility treatment ovarian stimulation is an important part of the process. You’ll be given fertility medication which will stimulate your ovaries to produce, or release, enough healthy, mature eggs to facilitate fertilization. With a number of eggs your chance of successful pregnancy increases.
Once you begin taking the medication to facilitate ovulation your ovaries will likely swell. This is perfectly normal, however it can make you vulnerable to a condition called ovarian torsion. Any amount of twisting, turning, lunging, and jumping can cause damage to your ovary and actually put you at risk for surgery.
So the safest way to proceed when you begin fertility treatment is to scale back on anything that calls for twisting, turning, jumping, and lunging. Activities such as kickboxing and other more physical martial arts, volleyball, soccer, rugby, lacrosse, skiing, tennis, gymnastics, and even some yoga moves should be postponed for the duration.
Intense Training Should Be Curbed When You Begin Fertility Treatment
Women who train excessively for such activities as marathon running, competition swimming, gymnastics, weightlifting, even tennis, often experience difficulties in maintaining a normal menstrual cycle. For many of these women amenorrhea, or the absence of menstrual periods, is a reality. In addition to losing body fat necessary for hormone production, your body may perceive the aggressive training as a physical threat. This type of stress causes your body to stop ovulation in an effort to conserve energy.
Another risk of intense training is the possibility of becoming dehydrated. Dehydration impacts your overall health, including your reproductive health. For women egg quality can be directly affected, as can the health and quality of the endometrium, or lining of the uterus, necessary for the fertilized egg to implant and grow.
Instead of going so hard, take this time off and pursue a gentler activity. Walking, leisurely riding your bike, easy swimming with no twists and turns, and gentle yoga or Pilates moves will keep you limber and help you deal with the stress you may be feeling right now.
Everything in Moderation
For those women athletes who are conditioned and wish to maintain some level of training, speak with your doctor. As the saying goes, everything in moderation. However your physician will let you know when it’s safe for you to resume your training, if at all, depending on the sport.
Dads Should Also Proceed With Caution
Women aren’t the only ones who need to back off athletic pursuits when they begin fertility treatment. Male sperm quality and count are directly affected by certain activities, as well as snug fitting athletic clothing, overheating, and even performance-enhancing supplements.
Any activity which may cause a groin injury can lead to infertility. Cycling, on its own, isn’t too risky unless you cycle in excess of 20 hours per week. However, cycling in tight bicycle shorts can cause overheating of the scrotum, which will diminish the quality of your semen.
Your Doctor Has the Final Word
Training for, or playing a sport to the point of overheating and exhaustion isn’t healthy for anyone. When you begin fertility treatment this type of overexertion may interfere with the quality of your eggs, or your partner’s sperm. Take some time off your rigorous schedule, make sure the sports in which you participate are safe, and before you do anything speak to your fertility specialist.