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