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As an IVF specialist, I get to treat patients with different forms of infertility and from different age groups. While some have walked through the doors of an IVF clinic for the first time, others come in for a second or third opinion. Some patients have no clue what IVF treatment involves, while others are very well-informed and come armed with a list of questions for me.

I have to say that this exposure to a variety of patients has given me the ability to expertly deal with people from different walks of life.  In addition to the different types of patients I just talked about, occasionally some fitness freaks also come in to consult me about their infertility problems. Most are baffled with the fact that they are unable to conceive and say things like- “Dr, I workout every single day and have done so for a long time now and I am also very conscious about consuming a healthy diet, but I just can’t seem to get pregnant”.

The Root Cause

Though I wouldn’t really site this as a rule, there is a high possibility that it is their ultra hyperactive and exercise-oriented lifestyle that is the crux of the matter. In some instances, strenuous workouts at the gym, training for marathons or being involved in excessively strenuous sports or physical activities can be the reason why a patient hasn’t got pregnant. Of course, the standard tests will be conducted to identify what the probable cause of their infertility is; but in many cases, it’s the physical activity that’s the culprit.

When Excess Hurts

This is when I find myself telling them that if they really are keen on getting pregnant, they will have to cut back on their exercise regimen. Some women push their bodies too much, and work out to a point where it starts affecting their fertility. This is not an unheard of occurrence. Increasingly, a lot of people have started becoming very fitness conscious and take their fitness mantra to the extremes when it comes to hitting the gym, indulging in a sport or jogging for miles every day.

I have seen healthy women working out to a point where they disrupt the hormonal balance in their bodies; their brain simply stops sending signals to their ovaries and they stop ovulating. Their body mass index drops, and because they don’t have enough body fat, and some even develop amenorrhea – their periods stop altogether. This is a type of hypothalamic amenorrhea, called athletic amenorrhea. Sometimes too much of a good thing can be bad for you.

Now the flip-side….

Most IVF doctors are quite reluctant to actually discourage women to workout. This, keeping in view the fact that more than 6% of infertility cases are a result of obesity. The truth is that exercise is excellent for a woman who is trying to get pregnant. It improves the flow of blood to the uterus and the ovaries and keeps her healthy. Like many things, the problems surface, when this is taken to the extreme.  The secret is simple – moderation in all things because you need to find a balanced middle path.

When your body protests

It’s often a mix of genetics, getting insufficient calories as well as being significantly underweight which causes some women to suffer ovulation problems. When you put your body through so much stress, and if you aren’t eating sufficiently to compensate for all that energy loss, it tends to go into a state of starvation. Our brain is wired in an amazing way; it judges that it’s not really the best time to have a baby; it then sends your reproductive hormones and body into a shut-down mode of sorts.

It’s important for women to understand that just exercise per se, doesn’t cause infertility issues and that it’s also all the other factors put together which have this deleterious impact.

When it comes to having a baby, finding the sweet spot is a lot about giving your body the chance to redirect its energies towards baby-making. So eat healthy, cut back on drinking and maintain a moderate exercise routine and your body just might react the way you want it to.

Need more information? Please send me your medical details by filling in the form at www.drmalpani.com/free-second-opinion so that I can guide you better!

Authored by : Dr Aniruddha Malpani, MD and reviewed by Dr Anjali Malpani.

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