Exercising During IVF Treatments: Dos and Don’ts
If you’re about to launch into a round of IVF treatments or if it’s something you’ve thought about doing for quite some time, chances are you’ve been focused on being as healthy as possible for this adventure, knowing that IVF and battling fertility is a whole body thing, with all the components of a healthy body working together to make that baby a reality.
And, of course, something that goes along with being one’s healthiest self is participation in daily exercise of some sort.
Exercise is hard for some of us. It takes every inch of motivation to get up and move, but once we get started, it often becomes a super important part of our regimen. We feel better after we exercise and we know that it’s helping us.
Often, the benefits are quite obvious.
But what about exercise during IVF treatments? Can we just maintain the status quo or do we need to make adjustments in our exercise routine? Actually, these very questions have been the focus of a number of studies regarding IVF and exercise and IVF and weight/obesity and the impact that these have on live-birth rates.
The studies may be of special interest to those concerned about issues such as Body Mass Index (BMI) and other factors they believe could impact their chance to get pregnant and sustain a healthy pregnancy. After all, reducing weight and BMI is the major reason why most women exercise.
Of special interest is a 2017 study, conducted by a handful of Israeli physicians, demonstrating that BMI – high or low – doesn’t have a significant impact on the success of IVF.
Furthermore, it was clear through the results of this study that BMI shouldn’t be a reason for denying IVF. Of course, obese women could have other complications due to their weight but that’s something that should be discussed with their specialist.
But back to exerciseMost experts agree that mild to moderate exercise is sufficient for those undergoing IVF treatments, regardless of their current weight. It’s equally as important, most agree, to stick with what you’ve been doing. In other words, don’t up your game while you’re doing IVF treatments.
If you were a walker, continue to walk. If you did yoga or spin, go ahead and keep doing it, at least in the early stages of IVF if it’s okay with your doctor. But don’t start anything new and don’t engage in high-impact or high-cardiovascular activities.
Why not? It’s simply because the ovaries enlarge during IVF and they can literally become twisted with exercises such as running. So, if you’re a runner or a participant in other high-impact sports, give it a rest and find a substitute work-out that won’t impact your ovaries.
Most doctors also advise ceasing exercise altogether a week or two before egg retrieval and for at least 10 weeks after embryo retrieval. Many experts are of the opinion that exercising the large muscles in the arms and legs takes blood away from the ovaries and uterus, which can impact IVF success.
Low-impact exercise in short spurts is really the name of the game for those undergoing IVF treatments. Three 30-minute sessions a week really is ample, and instead of weight-lifting, spinning, or tennis, opt for yoga (especially the pre-natal classes), walking, tai chi, or even some low-intensity water aerobics or swimming.
It’s also a good time in your life to replace your exercise sessions with other activities that may help relieve the stress of trying to conceive. These might include meditation, reading, acupuncture, prayer, or other things that help keep you calm.
Remember, however, to always consult with your doctor about anything that might impact the success of your IVF treatments, especially if you’re unsure of that impact. Go back