Can exercise affect fertility, pregnancy, and conception itself?
In one of our recent articles we’ve already described in detail how exercise influences the female cycle. But what about exercise and fertility, exercise and pregnancy, or exercise and conception itself? This is the question we want to answer in this blog post and we have compiled all the (scientific) facts for you.
The connection between exercise and fertility in women
There are several studies that prove that there is a connection between intense exercise and an increased probability of infertility in women. However, it has to be stated right away that we are talking about very intense (sometimes excessive) training, which is very stressful for the body. The risk of infertility is 3 times higher if you exercise excessively compared to when you exercise moderately. This is the result of a study by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim.
There are many reasons for infertility
We know it’s confusing! Women always hear that they should exercise more, and now this? Well, let’s get one thing straight: The reasons for infertility can be varied and one aspect of it is today’s overly stressful lifestyle in connection with very intense exercise. Most women who are affected by this are incredibly ambitious and this is a thread that runs through their entire lives. They always strive for more and then often get stuck in a very stressful lifestyle where exercise is also quite literally a real compulsion. Taking this direction can it be unhealthy for the body and also have a negative effect on a woman’s fertility.
Exercising when you want to get pregnant
The underlying reason that these women often struggle with conception is that exercising to the point of exhaustion stresses and drains the body so much that it cannot prepare itself for pregnancy. In addition, women often not only exercise too much but they also restrict their food intake. This leads to a calorie deficit, which can deplete the body even further in terms of energy levels. Pregnancy is an incredibly energy-consuming condition for a woman’s body. The body can no longer afford this if it is supplied with a minimum of energy through too much exercise or too little food intake or both.
Too much exercise can have consequences
One thing is clear: exercising too much can have consequences. For the study, women who wanted to conceive were observed. Those who exercised every day to the point of exhaustion had the highest difficulty in getting pregnant. This effect was most evident in women under 30 years of age.
Obesity is linked to fertility
Please don’t think that the solution is to stop exercising all together. Quite the opposite is true. A connection between obesity and infertility in women has also been proven. Obesity, in turn, is often observed in connection with too little exercise and excess food intake.
Getting pregnant with excess weight
In Germany alone, 35% of women are overweight. Being overweight and wanting to have children are not mutually exclusive, but studies have also shown that the chance of getting pregnant is significantly reduced if you are overweight. It is assumed that women who lose 4-10 kilos within six months can increase the possibility of pregnancy by 80%. In addition, the risk of miscarriages decreases enormously. It has also been further proven that a balanced diet coupled with moderate physical activity is 60x more cost-effective than IVF or insemination treatment.
Is there an ideal BMI if you want to conceive?
When you look at the figures and studies, you can easily think you can’t do anything right anyway. After all, too much exercise has a bad effect on fertility, but so does too little exercise. That’s why we continued to look into the question of what the ideal BMI is for women who wish to conceive. The Body Mass Index is also used here and it is deduced that a BMI between 18.5 and 24.9 is ideal for pregnancy if you want to have children. Anything below 18.5 or above 25, unfortunately, reduces your chances dramatically. From a BMI of 30 onwards, there is an acute need for action and the probability of a pregnancy occurring is very low.
To what extent can you increase fertility by exercising?
Based on the results of the studies, we would like to give you the following tips that summarise the level of physical activity in relation to fertility.
- Never exercise to the point of absolute exhaustion.
- Your body needs adequate recovery. By the way, these are also crucial in order to see results from your workouts.
- For this reason, 3-4 training sessions per week are recommended.
- Depending on the intensity of the training, you should not aim for more than 1 hour per session.
- Adjust your diet to the activity. You will need to increase your energy requirements and eat more (healthy) food on the days you exercise.
Can exercise negatively affect implantation?
Now, if you are not infertile, how does exercise affect implantation? There are quite a few myths that claim that jogging during implantation is dangerous and that it is better not to do it. Well, that’s only half true, because again, everything should be done in moderation. If you do moderate jogging during implantation, it shouldn’t cause any problems, but if you do hard interval training and push your body to the limit, it can put that much stress on your body that implantation could be impaired. That’s because, as mentioned before, your body doesn’t have the energy to handle intense exercise and implantation at the same time. Basically, you can continue to do everything your body is used to. Just be mindful and don’t push your body to the limit.