IVF Babble

Fertility Advocate Jennifer Jay Palumbo talks exercise

By Fertility Advocate Jennifer Jay Palumbo

To me, one of the very few benefits was that I often had a doctor telling me NOT to exercise. Finally, I had medical support in my favorite pastime: laying on the couch watching The Golden Girls! Truly – when I was diagnosed with infertility, the only “cycling” I ever really did was IVF.

However, if you are a more motivated human than I, there are things to consider before indulging in the Jane Fonda Workout (you see how out of touch I am with exercising??? That’s not only a 1982 reference, but it’s to a VHS tape!)

If you exercise regularly, you may wonder if it is safe to exercise before frozen embryo transfer. Women undergoing fertility treatment need to protect their reproductive organs as they have the “starring role” (if you will) in fertility treatment. This often means avoiding strenuous exercise. High-impact exercise puts the body under physical stress, potentially affecting your embryo transfer and compromise implantation. Still, this doesn’t mean you have to abandon your health regimen completely.

The Link Between High-Impact Exercise and Failed Implantation

Many women are worried about their overall health before starting IVF. That includes being a healthy weight, which can be important to conception. In addition, overweight or obese patients may have complications during pregnancy. Therefore, you should make sure you are at a healthy weight before you begin your IVF journey. If you’re dealing with PCOS though, this is easier said than done (don’t even get me started!)

While a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle can help increase the chances of conception, research has shown that high-impact exercise can negatively affect implantation. One of the most extensive studies into the link between exercise and IVF studied 2,232 women undergoing their first IVF cycle. The study found that regular exercise didn’t increase the chances of a live birth. In fact, they found that women who exercise more than four hours a week were 40% less likely to have a live birth.

Exercise Before Frozen Embryo Transfer: The Basics

Despite my lack of skills in this department, I do know that exercise is vital to your health and well-being, especially during times of stress. Although strenuous activity should be ruled out, mild to moderate exercise is acceptable during IVF treatment. You must speak to your reproductive endocrinologist about what’s good and what’s not, but here are some quick tips about exercise during IVF treatment:

  • Stay in your comfort zone
  • Avoid high impact cardiovascular exercise
  • Do not exercise for more than four hours per week
  • Focus on low impact exercises that encourage stress relief
  • Opt-out of activity completely during certain IVF stages, per your doctor’s advice.

Remember – every IVF case is different. So make sure you follow your fertility doctor’s advice!

Some Low Impact Exercises to Reduce Stress and Promote Health

When it comes to exercise before frozen embryo transfer, you need to avoid strenuous movement that moves blood away from your reproductive system. Therefore, patients should avoid high-intensity interval training, heavyweights, or demanding abdominal exercises. Instead, opt for a low-impact exercise that reduces stress and promotes mental and physical well-being. Some recommend activities include:

  • Walking
  • Yoga – especially prenatal yoga
  • Tai Chi
  • Pilates
  • Use of light hand weights
  • Water exercises, like water aerobics and low-intensity swimming
  • Light stretching

During IVF treatment, I firmly believe in self-care as the best form of exercise. Activities that reduce stress and promote physical health are essential to your well-being. Overall, as I’m not only not a doctor, nor do I excel at exercising (really – you should see me try to run), you must follow the advice given to you by your clinician.

Read more from Jay here

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