Generally, it was believed that women who “took it easy” and exercised less when trying to conceive a child, had a better chance at pregnancy. When investigating the causes of infertility, a woman’s doctor will first take other factors into consideration such as a woman’s age, the timing of her cycles and ovulatory status, the condition of her uterus and tubes, and the condition of her partner’s sperm before considering the effects of her physical activities. The effects of exercise on fertility are hard to predict, some women can work out strenuously and easily get pregnant but for others a lower level of exertion can impede the fertility process.

Although there are no specific guidelines on the frequency or intensity of exercise, current research suggests that regular workouts not only improve reproductive function, they also reduce the risk of infertility. A 2007 study in the Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology concluded that women who exercised 30 minutes or more daily had a reduced risk of ovulatory disorder infertility[1]. And in 2010, The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence’s recommended that women who are preparing for pregnancy engage in physical activities of moderate intensity for 30 minutes per day[2].

THE PRO – THE BENEFITS OF EXERCISE

For inactive women, adding a daily physical activity will increase their odds of conceiving. Exercise improves a woman’s metabolism and circulation, and this contributes to better egg production. Furthermore, women who engage in regular activities optimize their reproductive systems because when the endocrine glands are stimulated, they secrete hormones which assist in egg growth.

Routine exercise may eliminate, or at least manage, some causes of infertility such as the effects of stress and obesity. Studies show that women that are obese are more likely to experience reproductive problems and, if they do get pregnant, they experience a higher risk of miscarriage and delivery complications.[3]

THE CON – WHEN TO SCALE BACK

Studies show that more than an hour of vigorous exercise a day can lead to a decrease in the production of FSH (the hormones that stimulate ovary function), causing the ovaries to become underactive and stop producing eggs and estrogen. Endorphins can also suppress the ovarian hormones making it harder for a woman to get pregnant or increases the likelihood for a miscarriage. If you’re undergoing fertility treatments, it is best to speak with your doctor before you do any intense, vigorous or high-impact exercise.

[1] Diet and Lifestyle in the Prevention of Ovulatory Disorder Infertility.” Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, Volume 110, Issue 5 (2007), pp. 1050-1058

[2] “Weight management before, during and after pregnancy.” National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, July, 2010

[3] Ibid.