Too Fit to Conceive: Effects of Exercise on Fertility

If you’re trying to get pregnant, you’ve likely heard the spiel from your doctor. You need to eat healthy, take your prenatal vitamins, and exercise. While being fit is a healthy way of life, too much exercise can make it difficult to conceive.

According to research published in Fertility and Sterility that looked at the association between physical activity and time to pregnancy, exercise improved fertility in women who were overweight or obese. However, normal-weight women and women who engaged in more vigorous exercise experienced more difficulty when trying to conceive.

It’s believed that too much or too strenuous of exercise can affect both women’s monthly cycle and implantation. Here is a closer look at how exercise affects fertility and what you can do to improve your odds of getting pregnant.

How Too Much Exercise Effects Fertility

There are several theories as to why too much exercise affects fertility. Many researchers believe that excessive or strenuous exercise has a direct effect on the luteal phase, or the time between ovulation and your expected period. While the luteal phase typically lasts between 12 and 16 days, too much exercise can lead to a shorter luteal phase, which can interfere with your ability to get pregnant.

During this “two week wait” between ovulation and your period, progesterone levels typically run high to create an environment in which a fertilized egg can securely attach to the uterine lining. When your luteal phase is shortened, your progesterone levels may remain low. Low levels of progesterone can prevent the fertilized egg from implanting, which can result in infertility.

Another common cause of infertility is a restricted diet. Low body weight accounts for approximately 6 percent of primary infertility, according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. Many women who work out regularly also restrict their diet and may not consume enough healthy fats. If you lose weight rapidly or weigh too little for your height and body type, you may experience difficulty with conceiving.

How to Stay Fit While Trying to Conceive

While too strenuous or too much physical activity can be problematic while trying to get pregnant, not all exercise is bad. The key is finding a healthy balance. Exercise is effective at managing your weight, reducing stress, and improving your mood and mental health. To maintain a healthy level of fitness while boosting your fertility rates, it’s important to make adjustments in your exercise routine.

According to WebMD, moderate physical activity was found to be beneficial for women of all body types when trying to conceive. Moderate exercise typically includes at least 150 minutes of moderately-paced aerobic activity per week, such as a brisk walk or swim. Alternatively, moderate exercise can include 75 minutes of vigorously-paced aerobic activity a week, such as running or aerobic dancing.

If you’re having trouble trying to conceive, the amount or way that you exercise may be the culprit. It is possible to be too fit. While reducing the amount or velocity in which you exercise is not always a cure for infertility, it may improve your chances of conceiving.