Multiple people working out to represent exercise and fertility.

Exercise and fertility

If you feel overwhelmed about exercising when trying to conceive (TTC), you’re not alone. Each person’s exercise routine will be different depending on their preferences, health goals, personal history, and doctor’s recommendations.

Exercise and fertility

Typically doctors recommend that every woman get at least 30 minutes of solid exercise a day for mental and physical benefits. Exercise impacts hormones, and so it also impacts ovulation, periods, and fertile windows. Here’s a breakdown of how. 

Hormones

Hormones are chemicals that communicate what is happening between your body’s systems. Hormones are important in regulating functions such as blood pressure, heart rate, mood, and many other processes, including your menstrual cycle. Because exercise causes the release of certain hormones, it has an effect on various hormone-dependent processes. Exercise that feels overly exhausting may cause hormonal imbalance, which can make trying to conceive much more difficult. For this reason, having a good balance of exercise and recovery and rest when you are trying to conceive is very important. 

Periods 

Periods are the flow of blood and tissue that marks both the beginning and end of your menstrual cycle. Because your menstrual cycle is dependent on hormonal balance, it can be impacted by exercise. Both too much exercise, and not enough can impact your cycle and make TTC more difficult. If you start getting your period less often or not at all, you should talk to your healthcare provider and determine together what changes in your physical activity routine would best support your body as you TTC. 

Ovulation 

Ovulation is the phase of the menstrual cycle when an ovary releases an egg. Some people who follow an intense exercise routine will experience anovulation (not ovulating) and amenorrhea (missing periods). The hormones released during very intense physical activity trigger a decrease in the production of hormones necessary for ovulation. This is one way the body compensates for not having something it needs.  

Finding the right movement for you

Finding movement you enjoy and look forward to doing is a great way to strike a balance and develop a healthy habit you don’t want to skip! This can take time and experimentation. Go to a new exercise class once a week. If you love it, go back! If you hate it, dont! There are no “shoulds” or “right” ways to find joy in movement. So what if you’re the youngest person in the water aerobics class, or the oldest person in zumba. You’re there for you, not anyone else! 

Remember, even though it can be difficult to manage exercise when TTC, you don’t have to do it alone. You can always talk to a doctor. Support groups, care teams, and loved ones are also excellent resources. Also, try to remind yourself that exercise can be a difficult topic tied to emotional difficulties around body image and feelings of worthiness. And these feelings can be especially triggering when it comes to fertility. Be gentle with yourself as you change your physical activity routines to find what works best for you. There’s no shame in asking for support and wanting to learn more. 

Reviewed by the Ovia Health Clinical Team


Sources

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