Exercising and Fertility: How too much or too little of it can hamper your Fertility

By | December 16, 2021
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Women, Exercise and Fertility

5f2bb968 women exercise and fertility

Women dealing with fertility issues are often advised to change their lifestyle and the first step in that direction is weight reduction. Being overweight (or underweight) can hamper chances of conception. Being close to a healthy weight (ideally BMI between 18.5 to 24.9) improves the odds of getting pregnant. Therefore, exercising regularly is advisable in case you are overweight as it is beneficial not only for your reproductive health but also your overall well-being.

But many times, to reduce weight quickly, women fall into the trap of over exercising. They engage in a vigorous routine of physical activities that sometimes cross 3 hours a day. This can prove to be highly counterproductive. 

Exercise Induced Suppression of Ovulation

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It is undoubtedly true that physical activities are beneficial when trying to conceive, but it’s important to remember that too much of a good thing can be bad. 

It has been established that it is not the stress of exercise that causes reproductive dysfunction; rather, in an attempt to conserve energy, metabolic adaptations triggered by an energy deficiency alter the normal production and pulsatility of reproductive hormones at all levels of the hypothalamic–pituitary–ovarian (HPO) axis. As such, estrogen and progesterone concentrations decline, resulting in a spectrum of exercise associated menstrual disturbances (EAMD). Suppressed follicular growth and oocyte maturation, poor endometrial quality, spontaneous abortion, and infertility are all clinical reproductive consequences of EAMD. Exercise induced menstrual disorders contribute to about 6% of couples with infertility. 

When you lose a lot of weight through extreme exercise routines, you may stop ovulating leading to fertility issues.

What is a vigorous exercise? 

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Any intense workout that makes it harder to breathe and does not let you talk without pausing for breaks can be considered vigorous. It depends on the intensity. For example: Cycling may not usually be considered vigorous but if you do it extremely hard and fast, it will be.

Other workouts that could be intense: HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training), Aerobics, running etc. 

 Should you stop exercising then?

d8c42e39 what is a vigorous exercise

Not at all. It is important to note that it is not exercise per se that is causing the reproductive dysfunction, but the energy deficiency. The deficit impacts the production of female hormones and causes menstrual disturbances like irregular periods. So, instead of doing extreme workouts or not exercising at all, it is advisable to do them in moderation.

Factors to consider when determining your workout routine

  1. Duration: Consider how much time you spend exercising per day, engaging in strenuous exercises for longer duration like 2-3 hours per day is not advisable. Listen to your body and choose a duration suitable for you.
  1. Intensity of the workout: Whatever physical activity you opt for, its intensity should be moderate and sustainable. Moderate exercises may include brisk walking, swimming, gardening, or even yoga.

Parting thoughts

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It may not be easy to fit a daily exercise routine into your schedule, but it is important that you do so. Moderate intensity exercise improves not only your physical health but also emotional wellbeing. Women dealing with menstrual issues like PCOS can benefit from simple activities like walking or cycling. These workouts regularize their cycle and increase the frequency of ovulation. This in turn will improve the chances of conception.

The stress of fertility issues often impacts your mental health as well. Research has shown that regular exercise helps in reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression. 

Exercise is a key component in managing weight but remember when done extremely and vigorously it may be doing more harm than good. Make sure that you are not creating an energy deficit and consume enough calories to maintain a healthy weight. Moderation is the key. Exercising in a sustainable, moderate manner will help you deal with fertility issues and improve our chances of conception.

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