23 Jan How much exercise is good for IVF patients?
Friends say ‘take it easy’. Doctors say ‘don’t overdo it’. But who’s right when it comes to exercise before and during pregnancy? And should you tread more carefully when you’re having IVF?
The answer to the last question is no. A study of physical activity and IVF followed 108 IVF patients in the year before their treatment. The most active almost tripled their chances of a pregnancy. Maintaining insulin levels through exercise were at the heart of the findings: too much might harm a woman’s egg quality. The study said that exercise after embryo transfer, in an own-egg IVF cycle, was less relevant.
That’s backed up by a 2018 mega-study. It found that exercise before IVF/ICSI cycles boosted clinical-pregnancy and live-birth rates. Exercise didn’t alter the miscarriage rate, or, interestingly, the implantation rate. Over 3,000 couples were assessed, so it’s trustworthy research.
Away from IVF cycles, a Danish study looked at a large number of women trying to conceive naturally. Those who exercised moderately, more than five hours a week, got pregnant quicker. Vigorous exercise made pregnancy less likely. These findings are relevant to IVF patients. Take moderate, regular exercise.
IVF and non-assisted pregnancies are basically the same when it comes to post-conception exercise. Exercise reduces stress, brings down blood pressure, improves sleep, reduces the chance of an c-section and enhances your sense of wellbeing. When pregnant women exercise, it makes labour easier and hastens a return to normal life. Your baby is also less likely to be overweight.
What’s moderate exercise? You should be able to have a conversation while you do it. If you can’t, slow down. Focus on getting your BMI into the normal range before IVF or natural conception. That applies to both partners. Aim for 30 minutes of moderate exercise, five days a week. Have a read of the NHS’s exercise-in-pregnancy guidelines.
IVF patients are closely involved in the minutiae of their conception efforts. And concerns about exercise – how much, when and how – are common. Mostly, it’s just common sense. Keep active and you’ll feel well, mentally and physically. A healthy body means a more optimal gestational environment. Your baby will thank you for it.