Exercise, Infertility and Pregnancy; Myths Debunked
By Carla DiGirolamo, MD, PHD
“Should I be on bedrest while I’m trying to get pregnant?”
"I read something online that said I shouldn’t exercise if I’m having trouble getting pregnant.”
Each are two frequenty asked questions I hear a lot. For sure, good questions to get clarification on – but ones that are based on culural myths.
So, for today's blog post – let's do some mythbusting!
According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) Committee Opinion No. 650:
- “Women with uncomplicated pregnancies should be encouraged to engage in aerobic and strength conditioning exercises before, during and after pregnancy.”
- “Regular physical activity during pregnancy improves or maintains physical fitness, helps with weight management, reduces the risk of gestational diabetes in obese women and enhances psychologic well-being.”
Exercise during pregnancy poses minimal risk although modification may be needed due to the anatomic and physical changes that occur during pregnancy. Also, in pregnancies where there are complications, your obstetrician will be the best resource for providing modifications to physical activity if needed.
There are few studies and recommendations pertaining to physical activity in patients struggling with conception, however, there are some that focus on patients with specific fertility issues.
Some examples include:
- According to the Recommendations from the International Evidence-Based Guideline for the Assessment and Management of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), health professionals should be recommending that adult patients age 18-64 with PCOS should engage in a minimum of 150 minutes per week of moderate activity or 75 minutes per week of vigorous activity to include muscle conditioning on 2 consecutive days per week. (Fertility and Sterility 110 (3); 2018).
- Competitive athletes face the challenge of the impact of very intense training and rigorous training schedules and how their training/nutritional balance impacts menstrual cycles and body composition. (The Female Athlete Triad; Pediatrics 138; 2016)
The benefits of physical activity in all stages of life are well-documented.
Regular exercise maintains and improves cardiorespiratory fitness, reduces the risk of obesity and associated comorbidities and promotes greater longevity. The fitness industry has evolved immensely in the last 30 years to be more inclusive of all people – not just athletes – as the benefit of regular exercise for all individuals continues to be realized.
Carla M DiGirolamo, MD, CF L1
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Carla M. DiGirolamo, M.D., Ph.D. is a Reproductive Endocrinologist taking new patients at Boston IVF, Waltham, Massachusetts. She is Board Certified in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility as well as general Obstetrics and Gynecology. Dr. DiGirolamo is credentialed as a Level 1 CrossFit Trainer, Les Mills certified group fitness instructor and is a member of CrossFit Health, a worldwide organization of physicians who CrossFit created by CrossFit Founder, Greg Glassman in his quest to cure the world of chronic disease. In addition to helping patients build their families, Dr. DiGirolamo’s special interest is in managing the unique reproductive/endocrine challenges of female athletes.