Exercise is an important component of a healthy lifestyle. Fertility is affected by exercise dependent on the amount performed. Vigorous exercise and lack of exercise can affect female fertility through hormonal imbalances as well as disruption in the menstrual cycle and ovulation. Moderate exercise has been found to be beneficial when trying to conceive.
Vigorous aerobic exercise can inhibit the production of progesterone and estrogen, the hormones necessary for ovulation and pregnancy. Ovulation cycles are disrupted by too much aerobic exercise as the body virtually shuts down the reproductive system to maintain other systems directly affected by exercise. An article edited by David Olive that appeared in the August 2010 issue of "Current Opinion in Obstetrics and Gynecology" indicates that the frequency, duration, and the intensity level of exercise reduces a women's infertility thus the chances of becoming pregnant. Female athletes, the article states, often experience adverse effects in regard to their fertility.
Lack of Exercise
Simultaneously, lack of exercise can affect the fertility of women. Sedentary lifestyles are closely associated with excess weight gain which can cause the body to produce too much estrogen reducing fertility. At the same time, excess weight may result in an increase of insulin, which affects the entire hormone system. Too much insulin can cause women to produce high levels of testosterone which can cause egg production to stop. Women who wish to conceive should consult their doctor about appropriate exercise routines.
Moderate exercise has been associated with improved fertility. Exercise helps to control weight, prevent certain health conditions, improve mood and energy levels and enhance sex. It is recommended that women of a healthy weight engage in aerobic exercise at most seven hours a week when trying to conceive. Underweight and overweight women should consult with their doctors for exercise recommendations.
Exercise, Fertility and Weight
Exercise resulting in weight loss and reduction of body mass index disrupts menstrual cycles. Women who lose a significant amount of weight may experience inadequate levels of hormones in the uterine lining, which can compromise conception. Underweight women, with a BMI of 18.5 or less, may experience irregular menstrual cycles, which can hinder ovulation. Normal weight women, with a BMI between 19 and 24, also reduce their fertility with excessive exercise.
- American Society for Reproductive Medicine: Weight and Fertility
- MayoClinic: Female Fertility: Why Lifestyle Choices Count
- MayoClinic: Exercise: 7 Benefits of Regular Physical Activity
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Lifestyle Habits May Impact Fertility
- Wisconsin Fertility Institute: Exercise and Fertility: An Update
Jennifer Carr, MSHE specializes in health and wellness, fitness, nutrition, alternative medicine and treatment for substance abuse. She has served as a health-care communicator and recovery coach, providing support and guidance for individuals going through treatment for addictions. Carr completed her Master of Science in health education at Arcadia University. She graduated from Villanova University with a Bachelor of Arts.