How Exercise Can Affect Your Fertility

Photo: David Giesbrecht/Netflix.
You can find all kinds of bogus workouts on the internet that claim to make you more fertile, including the best yoga poses for conceiving, and ab exercises that allegedly "boost" fertility. While it's very unlikely that one specific workout or move will magically make you conceive, your exercise habits do play somewhat of a role in determining your ability to have a baby.
This is a complicated topic to unpack, because every person's health history is completely different, including their weight and exercise habits. Given that, it's helpful to think of your exercise habits and weight as two different factors that contribute to fertility, says Joshua Klein, MD, FACOG, chief medical officer and reproductive endocrinologist at Expect Fertility. "Obviously weight and exercise are related, but they're not the same thing," he says. Weight is just one indicator of health, and certainly doesn't paint the whole picture of a person's lifestyle, including how much they exercise. For example, it's entirely possible that you could have a high weight and exercise daily, or a low weight and never exercise.
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When considering only exercise, however, research has shown that people who work out excessively (as in, four to five hours a week) may have a harder time getting pregnant, because it can interfere with their hormone balance, menstrual cycles, ovulation, and other things that are necessary for pregnancy, Dr. Klein says. This is true even for women who are considered in the "normal" weight range, he says. "For those women, if they cut back on exercise, their ability to ovulate and conceive may improve," he says.
Still, exercise is part of a healthy lifestyle, so it's a good idea to do it regularly — but just don't overdo it, Dr. Klein says. There are so many reasons why you should exercise besides weight management — such as reducing stress or keeping your heart healthy — all of which are valuable when you're trying to get pregnant, too. If you're concerned about your own chances of getting pregnant, talk to your doctor about your current exercise routine, and see if they have suggestions.
Ultimately, it's important not to focus too heavily on one lifestyle factor that's just one piece of the puzzle, like exercise, Dr. Klein says, when trying to get pregnant. "We have to be realistic about the scope of impact that changes in your lifestyle can make [on your fertility]," he says. And when you're trying so many things to get pregnant, you can never truly say what "worked" or what "didn't work" for you. That said, anything you do to optimise your health is going to be something that's at least somewhat supportive of pregnancy — and exercise just happens to be on that list.
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