When it comes to the study of infertility, there has been evidence that both the mind and body have an active role in affecting overall outcomes. For women especially, infertility has shown to increase levels of stress and depression, which in turn may impede a woman from becoming pregnant.1
Similarly, your physical health impacts your ability to conceive a great deal. When your body isn’t healthy, it makes it difficult for it to perform properly. In fact, 30% of female infertility has been linked to the inability to release an egg during the menstrual cycle. This issue is referred to as anovulation. Anovulation is less likely when a woman is physically fit and actively exercises.1
Obesity and Infertility
It’s long been recognized that infertility and obesity are linked for both men and women. In men, obesity can cause low sperm count, and for women it can cause anovulation. For many men and women who are overweight, conceiving naturally is still an option; however, cases of extreme obesity often see very little natural conception.3
Infertility linked to obesity in women might be signaled by the lack of a menstrual cycle, or irregularity in your cycle. Polycystic ovarian syndrome and insulin resistance are also related to obesity. In men, symptoms which may result in infertility based on obesity include erectile dysfunction and a lower production of testosterone.3 Low testosterone may also reduce sex drive and libido, making men less likely to want to be sexually active with their partners.
In cases of obesity, it’s likely that your doctor will recommend weight loss before pursuing reproductive assistance, such as IVF and other technologies. Losing weight can greatly impact the success rates of IVF and can also positively influence chances of becoming pregnant naturally.
Exercising for Sexual Health
In a study published last year in the Journal of Sports Medicine, researchers found that women who exercised vigorously for 30 minutes to an hour each day were less likely to experience anovulation than those who didn’t exercise or those who exercised too much (more than an hour each day).1 Further studies were needed to fully document the relevance of exercise to ovulation, but the idea stands that keeping your body healthy can impact your outcome of conceiving.
Low-impact exercise to boost physical health and reduce weight gain while you’re trying to conceive include walking, hiking, biking, swimming, yoga, and palates.
Exercise alone isn’t enough to reduce your weight and increase your physical health. It should be combined with a healthy diet of whole fresh foods and a reduction of processed, high sugar foods. Drinking enough water and getting enough rest also positively impacts your overall health and weight.
Stay Healthy Without Overdoing It
While exercise is an important aspect of your physical health, and in turn a healthy future pregnancy, remember not to overdo it. This is especially true for men who may see a decrease in testosterone or fertility when undergoing high endurance physical excursion. A study published in the Journal of Sports Medicine in 1993 found that men who underwent extreme physical activity during endurance athletics had a lower sperm count, less sperm motility, and a reduction in free testosterone.2
So, exercise regularly, but in healthy doses. Just like anything else you do, moderation is key when it comes to your health. For more information on exercise and its link to infertility speak to your doctor. He or she may be able to recommend specific exercises for your medical history and body type, as well as dietary changes which could make a difference due to weight and BMI.