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Can Exercise Affect Your Fertility?

You know that exercise is good for your health. But can too much or too little exercise hurt your chances of getting pregnant? It depends on your current weight and fitness level, Joel Bernstien, MD, says in the WebMD Trying to Conceive Community.

Bernstien's review on the connections between physical activity and fertility are broken down according to a woman's weight, exercise intensity, and ovulation cycle:

  • Healthy weight: If your weight falls in a normal range for your size and you have regular menstrual periods, exercise is very unlikely to hurt your chances of conceiving. Regular periods may be a good sign that you are ovulating regularly.
  • Overweight or obese: Regular, moderate exercise is a good idea if you fall within this group -- especially if you are not ovulating every month, which is the case for some women who are overweight or obese. (Irregular monthly periods may be a sign of this.)
    The great news: Losing just 5% of your body weight can greatly improve your chances of ovulating regularly. So on top of all the other physical and mental benefits, exercising may provide some fertility benefits in women carrying excess weight.
  • Extreme athletes: Again, it comes down to ovulation. If you have regular monthly periods and aren't taking birth control pills, chances are you're ovulating. But the physical stress of regular, extreme exercising can decrease ovulation in some women. If you are an extreme athlete with irregular periods, you may need to dial down the intensity of your exercise routine if you want to conceive sooner.

Have you revved up -- or let up -- on your exercise routine since you started trying to conceive? Do you think your exercise level has affected your efforts to get pregnant?

Discussion led by Joel Bernstien, MD Guest Expert
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