How exercise and weight-loss can prevent and reduce infertility.
One of the most significant developments in infertility management has been in changing lifestyle factors. It has become obvious that there is a clear relationship between weight and fertility as well as fitness and fertility.
When the body’s weight goes above or below normal, fertility decreases. Pregnancy may still occur, but is less likely. The miscarriage rate is also significantly increased in inactive and over-weight women. Unfit and inactive bodies are also less efficient at conception and carrying a pregnancy to full term. (K. Evenson, NICHHD, 2001). Weight loss and exercise may be essential before you commence any other treatment program (Repromed, U of Adelaide, Australia 2000).
At least 15% of people experience some level of infertility. 35% is female infertility, 35% male, some times it’s both and 10% is unexplained infertility. However, most of these can be treated with healthier lifestyle changes. More sever infertility may need medical and surgical techniques.
Infertility can cause anger, frustration, and depression, and put stress on a relationship. According to J. F Kerin, MD, Professor of Reproductive Medicine, University of Adelaide, Australia: -“The biggest problem in infertility is weight related and from PCOS (Polysystic Ovary Syndrome)”. PCOS affects 5-10% of women. The symptoms may include excessive hair loss or growth, acne, menstrual problems, infertility. Obesity, insulin resistance, diabetes, elevated cholesterol, heart disease and endometrial cancer. The only common problem is unpredictable ovulation and over production of Androgen (the male hormone testosterone).
It’s a vicious circle of excessive body-fat causing not just increased cholesterol, diabetes and heart disease, but also raises insulin levels and higher insulin’s levels causes a higher Androgen production by your ovaries. Fat and fertility are very closely related. The higher (or lower) your BMI and fat percentage the higher your risk of infertility. Being too skinny is not good either.
Your first option should always be exercise and healthy eating habits for weight loss. This has been shown in many studies a return to regular ovulation and fertility with long lasting health benefits. Exercise promotes weight-loss, reduces cholesterol, and prevents heart disease, and diabetes. This in turn, lowers insulin levels and reduces testosterone production. Exercise will also prepare your body better for pregnancy.
Other good habits that will prevent infertility are:
No smoking, drugs, alcohol or caffeine.
Reduce exposure to x-rays, toxins and chemicals.
Practice stress management and relaxation techniques.
Get 6-8 hours of sleep.
Take folic acid and B6 vitamins.
Drinking tea also seems to be a great tool in preventing and reducing fat stores, as its teasopinin may prevent fat absorption, according to Japanese researches.- ePregnancy 5/2003
-“ When pregnant and while nursing with PCOS, you also have to be very careful with your carbohydrate intake to avoid diabetes.” Says Christina Wheeler, a Hollywood mom to be at 38 weeks pregnant. She suffers from PCOS and has been forced to adhere to a very restricted nutritional program by her nutritionist when her insulin levels increased in the 2nd trimester.
Kerin said: -“ The most important aspect of fertility is general health and a healthy weight achieved by exercise. Exercise is key to regular ovulation. In addition to PCOS, inactivity and fat deposits produces the “bad” estrogen Estrone, which inhibits conception, while activity and fat loss promotes the production of the “good” estrogen Estrodiol that helps ovulation and pregnancy. Exercise also improves and normalizes other hormonal levels and produces Endorphins – the “feel good” hormone that reduces your stress levels.” Stress is another major cause of infertility.
Fit bodies are not just more efficient at getting pregnant, but as you continue to exercise throughout your pregnancy, your body is more likely to stay pregnant to term, preventing premature delivery, low birth weight, and birth defects. See www.modimes.com. You’ll also have a much more comfortable pregnancy, easier labor, faster recovery and most important: a healthier baby.
Debbie Calvo, in Los Angeles, a brand new mom of a healthy baby girl at age 45, despite obesity, said this: -“After going through many miscarriages and infertility treatment, I'd stopped exercising and was in terrible shape. Birgitta educated me about
the importance fitness could play in getting pregnant and a healthy pregnancy. Within just weeks of implementing the program…I felt more energetic and full of life than in the past couple years.
She made suggestions on nutrition for a healthy pregnancy that I believe played a significant role in my baby being so healthy. Only a few months later, I was pregnant and ended up with a healthy pregnancy and a very healthy baby at the age of 45!! I believe the fitness program played a very important role in my healthy pregnancy and in having the beautiful baby we have today!!!! Birgitta is the best!!!!
One of the reasons cited that many people don't exercise is that they hate it, one of the greatest parts of Birgitta's fitness training for me was that she identified what I loved to do which also provides aerobic exercise -- which is dancing - and we incorporated that as a main component of my fitness program. Due to Birgitta, I returned to a hobby I loved and at the same time I was getting healthier and fit!
Birgitta's book, Expecting Fitness, is THE best resource on exercise while begin pregnant that is in bookstores. It covers every aspect of exercise and provides solid nutritional advice for healthy pregnancies”.
- “Infertility treatment”, Repromed Adelaide, Australia 2000
- “What is PCOS?”, Repromed of the University of Adelaide, Australia 2000
- “How to enhance your chances of conception….”, Repromed of the University of Adelaide, Australia 2000
- “Exercise makes bigger babies”, J. Clapp III MD. American Journal of Obstetrics and gynecology. 2002
- “Vigorous Leisure Activity and Pregnancy Outcome” , Kelly Evenson, NICHHD, 2001
- “Expecting Fitness”, Birgitta (Gallo), St. Martins Press. 2000
Epigenetic scientists have discovered that moms while pregnant can with their diets and lifestyle mold the health of their babies. The FASEB Journal published a study proving that we are what our mothers ate or didn’t eat while pregnant. Genes can be modified by the environment (mom’s lifestyle). Rat fetuses receiving poor nutrition grew to be smaller and at higher risk for diabetes, growth retardation, cardiovascular disease, obesity and neuro-developmental delays etc…. These maternal – fetal health findings are seen to influence many healthcare issues through several generations. So what mom does will affect not just her immediate offspring but also future generation’s genetic make-up and therefore tendencies for various health problems. Reiterating what I have been preaching for 18 years, editor –in-chief of The FASEB Journal, Gerald Weissman, MD. , says: -"The jury's in and, yes, expectant moms really are eating for two. This study shows not only that we need to address problems such as preeclampsia during pregnancy, but also that prenatal care is far more important than anyone could have imagined a decade ago." Good or bad genes can be turned on or off depending on mom’s lifestyle. Most health related genes are not set in stone, they can be altered and once a baby is born, they can be further modified in good or bad ways depending on the child’s lifestyle.
In a related study, from University College Dublin and the National Maternity Hospital in Dublin, high GI or high sugar food consumption, like white bread and chocolate in late pregnancy increases obesity risks in children. The study published in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology mentions that though much of the work against childhood obesity have been focused on the food eaten by children, we need to also focus on the diet and exercise habits of the mothers themselves.
So moms, the healthier you eat and exercise before and during pregnancy and nursing will shape the future health of your baby and grand children. “What happens in the womb doesn’t stay in womb.” Make it a happy, healthy place for your child to grow, by eating only healthy natural foods (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and lean meats, poultry and especially fish, drink lots of water, avoid all things fried, processed and white (boxed and canned foods, soda, white bread, pasta, rice and sugar), take a great prenatal supplement and exercise 3-5 days a week. By getting every crucial nutrient, you can even avert possible toxic effects of BPA and Mercury. Continuing this and nursing, once your healthy baby is born, you will be role model for your child that will continue eating well and exercise as our habits and tastes are formed when so very young.
- Expecting Fitness com
Qi Fu, Xing Yu, Christopher W. Callaway, Robert H. Lane, and Robert A. McKnight. Epigenetics: intrauterine growth retardation (IUGR) modifies the histone code along the rat hepatic IGF-1 gene. FASEB J. doi:10.1096/fj.08-124768 http://www.fasebj.org/cgi/content/abstract/fj.08-124768v1
BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology
Published online ahead of print, Early View, doi: 10.1111/j.1471-0528.2009.02149.x
“Transient high glycaemic intake in the last trimester of pregnancy increases offspring birthweight and postnatal growth rate in sheep: a randomised control trial”
Authors: N.A. Smith, F.M. McAuliffe, K. Quinn, P. Lonergan, A.C.O. Evans
Volume 116, Issue 1, Pages 34-39
“Inhibition of acrylamide formation by vitamins in model reactions and fried potato strips”
Authors: X. Zeng, K.-W. Cheng, Y. Jiang, Z.-X. Lin, J.-J. Shi, S.-Y. Ou, F. Chen, M. Wang
Exercise affects the length of muscle stem cells, which play an important part in the muscle, organ and tissue repair process. Telomere length -- the length of the terminal caps (teeny DNA) of your chromosomes -- is considered to be a factor of aging and health. Vigorous exercise and activity may be associated with longer telomeres, and hence greater health and longevity.
Exercise also protects your telomeres from damaging, chronic psychological stress. Previous research has shown that stressed women who do not exercise have a 15-fold increase in the odds of having short telomeres. Those who do exercise had no perceived stress, nor any shortening of telomeres. With pregnancy and new motherhood being so stressful, this is crucial for moms.
We already know that the accumulation of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), in skeletal muscle after exercise, is important in the muscle repair process. MSCs release growth factors, promoting other cells to generate new muscle. Age and inactivity decreases our MSCs.
Scientist Marni Boppart, Ph.D. Professor at Department of Kinesiology, University of Illinois and Beckman Institute for Advanced Science & Technology says,
This makes us wonder if they provide a critical link between enhanced whole-body health and participation in routine physical activity...Although exercise is the best strategy for preserving muscle..., some individuals are just not able to effectively engage in physical activity.
Without muscle strength, movement becomes difficult and a pregnancy can spiral into an early delivery. This could be one of the reasons why bed-rest can be so detrimental during pregnancy and must make us look at the importance of promoting some sort of activity for all pregnant women, however modified. Longer telomeres may by key to why a fit mom's placenta is so much bigger and more efficient in nourishing a growing baby.
We also know that high-intensity interval training effectively increases your production of human growth hormone (HGH), a.k.a. the "Fitness Hormone," which plays a vital role in your overall health, fitness and longevity. The bottom line is simple: vigorous exercise will help keep your body healthier and younger.
Short telomeres are a major risk factor for several diseases, including: decreased immune response against infections, type 2 diabetes, neuro-degenerative diseases, testicular, splenic, intestinal atrophy and DNA damage. All of which can be attributed to problems in pregnancy and with optimal healthy development of a baby.
Longer telomeres, therefore, seem to be important for a healthier pregnancy and baby. Your lifestyle can either speed up or slow down telomere shortening; Obesity, lack of exercise and good nutrition, psychological stress and smoking all aid the production of free radicals that speed up the telomere-shortening process. Exercise decreases telomere shortening, promoting overall health and longevity, essentially slowing down the cellular aging process that eventually kills you.
Leukocyte telomere length (LTL) is preserved with vigorous aerobic exercise, as well as increased glutathione levels. You can improve glutathione levels by eating foods rich in the sulfur amino acids your cells need to synthesize glutathione (such as high quality whey protein, animal foods and eggs). However, from healthier reproduction to anti-aging, exercise is still one of the most promising health strategies. - Expecting Fitness