The ART Of Infertility Treatment
Infertility continues to be a challenge for many American adults. Both men and women struggle with infertility at the same rates, and more than 13% of couples attempting to get pregnant fail to do so. The alternative is to try fertility treatments like assisted reproductive technology (ART) to start a family. The most common form of ART is in vitro fertilization (IVF), which is the creation of an embryo outside the body. The embryo is then implanted in the hopeful woman’s uterine lining for pregnancy. Each IVF cycle is delicate, and there is a chance of failure. Some patients are concerned that exercise may be one of the factors in a failed cycle. There are several dos and don’ts surrounding training that will ensure a safe IVF cycle.
Is exercise helpful or harmful?
Exercise is essential for weight management and overall health and wellness. When someone is going through ART, there are benefits and drawbacks to exercising. IVF can be an emotionally taxing and stressful period. Exercise is known to release endorphins and other helpful hormones to reduce stress. Certain activities help maintain blood flow to the uterus and other essential organs necessary for childbirth.
1. Keep it simple
If the patient is accustomed to exercise, the medical team will recommend moving to low-intensity activities. These include walking, swimming, yoga, or a stationary bike. Women who weightlift should consider moving to lighter weights during the cycle. These exercises provide all the benefits without increasing the risks of a failed IV cycle.
2. Be care when you exercise
There are times during an IVF cycle when the body is more vulnerable to failed implantations. During egg retrieval, the team will recommend the patient stop exercising the week of the procedure. When taking hormone medication, the ovaries enlarge, increasing the risk of twisting the ligaments and cutting off blood flow. Intense exercise around this time can also cause hormone imbalances, impacting the effectiveness of IVF. Doctors also recommend reducing or stopping exercise for 14 days after implantation. The goal is to reduce the risk of a failed implantation.
3. Be mindful
Exercise can help reduce stress, but exercising the mind must also be a part of the process. Doctors will encourage activities like yoga, meditation, and acupuncture. These can help balance the body and may even enhance the patient’s fertility. Activities like yoga focus on a mind-body connection, which studies have shown can improve pregnancy outcomes.
4. Low impact is preferred
While exercise is helpful, all activities aren’t created equal. Some may be too strenuous for the body, especially if the patient is not usually active. Starting weight training with heavy weights, contact, or combat sports can increase the risk of injury. These high-risk activities can also lead to failed IVF cycles.
Exercise with moderation
An IVF cycle goes through many stages and can fail at times. The goal for any couple is to stay healthy and safe. Exercise can help, but the patient must practice caution. Focus on light activities with lots of rest and recovery in between. More importantly, consult with the fertility team before starting any new exercise. With the right physical and emotional well-being, the chances of success rise significantly.