- Fit to Be a Mom? How Exercise Affects Your Fertility
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Michelle Jarc, 36, a teacher in Cleveland, got the same message from her doctor after she suffered a miscarriage and tried unsuccessfully for nine months to conceive again. Although her weight put her in the normal BMI range, she was having irregular menstrual cycles. Her doctor, who suspected that Michelle wasn't producing enough estrogen, put her on Clomid a prescription drug that induces ovulation and advised her to cut back on her workouts and, for good measure, gain a few pounds. I was obsessed with being fit and maintaining my figure.
But having a child became more of a priority," Michelle says. So she cut her twice-daily exercise routine to just one to minute-a-day workout and stopped worrying about what she ate. After that, conceiving was a cinch. Today Michelle has four kids — a 5-year-old daughter, a 3-year-old son, and month-old twin boys — and is back to her prepregnancy weight and competing in 5Ks again.
Yet for sedentary women the subtle physiological changes that come from increasing exercise can benefit their odds of conceiving.
Exercise improves metabolism and circulation, both of which contribute to better egg production. Regular activity also optimizes your reproductive system by stimulating the endocrine glands, which secrete hormones that help eggs grow.
Fit to Be a Mom? How Exercise Affects Your Fertility
Plus, getting your sweat on is a known stress reliever — a good thing, because stress significantly decreased the probability of conception in one study. All those fertility-boosting benefits could help explain why some women find a bun in the oven shortly after stepping up their exercise routine.
A doctor originally put the odds for Jennifer Marshall, 30, a marketing manager in Cincinnati with reproductive complications, to get pregnant at only 0. Fast-forward through seven years of tests, surgeries, and many artificial insemination attempts: Yet eight weeks into P90X — a home DVD-based workout and nutrition program that she started because she was bored with her less intense walking and biking sessions — she found herself staring at a plus sign on a pregnancy-test stick.
Whether exercise was the ultimate catalyst, Jennifer's docs can't say. But the new routine, which helped her lower her weight to at 5 feet 8 inches, she'd previously fluctuated between and , was all that had changed recently. She gave birth to a healthy baby girl this past March. The default stance — mostly because there have been no controlled studies of exercise in women who are trying to get pregnant naturally — is that normal-weight women should work out at the "public health" dosage of minutes weekly, says Sheila Dugan, MD, chair of the American College of Sports Medicine's Strategic Health Initiative on Women, Sport, and Physical Activity.
That translates to 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity you break a sweat and are winded but can still speak in short phrases five days a week. Under- or overweight women should seek evaluation from a certified fitness professional, like an exercise physiologist or trainer, to tailor a program based on their energy input and output, Dr. Some specialists are going beyond this generic mandate. There is no need to give up your regular runs or, say, Zumba classes. Just keep your workouts to an hour or less a day. If your cycle is irregular or you haven't conceived after a few months, cut back further on exercise.
Also, this isn't the time to train for your first competitive event or start a rigorous gym class. Aim for 2, to 3, calories a day to gain the weight that will get you into the normal BMI range, or body fat above 12 percent.
If you're exercising five or more days a week, consider cutting back to three. Trim calories and gradually up your exercise to reach a fertility-friendly BMI. Aim for 60 minutes of cardio five days a week, and strength-train for 30 minutes three times a week. Without overdoing it, exercise not only increases fertility but is known to reduce dementia, osteoporosis, anxiety, depression and fatigue as well as improve cardiovascular health and quality of life 5.
Yoga in particular is an excellent stress buster!
Fit for fertility - Fit for Fertility
Excessive exercise with a reduction in body fat can have a negative effect on fertility by upsetting ovulation 7. A balanced diet is essential for overall good pre-conceptual health. Foods high in folic acid, such as broccoli, spinach, collard greens, kale, turnip greens and romaine lettuce should be incorporated into your daily diet. Vitamin B12, found in beef, soya products and all bran cereal has also been found to reduce the incidence of neural tube defects.
Antioxidants, including coenzyme Q10, found in nuts, fruits and vegetables may be beneficial in combating age-related fertility struggles.
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Supplementation with folic acid reduces neural tube defects with mg being advised for all and a higher dose of 5mg to reduce recurrence 8. A BMI of less than 19 has been stated to increase the time to conception fourfold A BMI of greater than 35 increases the time to conception twofold and also carries a greater risk of miscarriage and complications during pregnancy, delivery and post- partum 8 11 Smoking is detrimental to oocytes, sperm and embryos.
Kick the habit once and for all. Research has found that smoking not only reduced the possibility of getting pregnant it also reduces the chances of fertility treatment working 8 8a. Smoking also increases the risk of miscarriage in both naturally occurring pregnancies and those resulting from IVF 9 Excessive alcohol can affect hormone production in both males and females in men, alcohol excess can cause erectile problems and may have a negative effect on sperm production 8. There is no evidence to suggest moderate alcohol consumption affects fertility High levels of caffeine consumption mg: Past problems associated with a pregnancy may affect fertility.
Situations that may lead to problems include previous sexual abuse, a previous difficult delivery, or a past history of postnatal depression, stillbirth and neonatal complications, MD personal communication. One patient came to see me after three years of unsuccessful pregnancy. It came to light that her mother had given birth to a stillborn baby.
This had a profound effect on her psychological state when it came to her own fertility. I encouraged hypnotherapy and after five sessions she was able to conceive naturally. Many complementary practitioners are willing to offer advice, guidance and even treatment These include acupuncture, traditional Chinese or western medical herbalists, nutritionists, hypnotherapists and reflexologists.
Couples should be encouraged to seek help only from appropriately trained and qualified practitioners and to avoid treatment fads. Infertility, in particular, is very exposed to this with potentially very vulnerable people being totally exploited. I also think it is essential that communication occurs between all practitioners so that everybody is working together in an integrated way. Most popular articles in Getting Pregnant — Pregnancy Help.
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