Fertility Blog

Ask The Expert - Shedding Holiday Pounds

Q: It's the New Year and my husband and I plan to get serious about exercising and shed 10 pounds. Since I am trying to get pregnant, is there anything we should know? A: Before you jump on that bicycle, be aware that there is considerable debate about the impact of exercise on fertility. A sudden and extreme change in your diet or work out regimen can have hidden consequences. Too strenuous exercise can lower estrogen levels and suppress the hypothalamus and pituitary gland, leading to irregular ovulation. Some women who exercise vigorously cease menstruating and ovulating all together. In fact, because the research on even moderate exercise has been inconclusive, some reproductive endocrinologists advise their female patients to avoid all exercise that brings the heart rate above 110 beats per minute. This pretty much rules out jogging, aerobics and biking but not necessarily yoga and weight lifting. Both women and men need some body fat in order to reproduce. (Although overweight women experience more hormonal imbalances because excess weight can cause excessive production of estrogen.) Body Mass Index measures the ideal level. Women who have a BMI of between 20 and 25 are most fertile. As far as the male factor, the most important thing to remember is that sperm are very sensitive to heat. Taking saunas and hot tubs are enjoyable side benefits at many exercise clubs, but these heated conditions can greatly diminish healthy sperm counts. Bicycling is the main sport that is best avoided by men who want to maintain optimal conditions for reproduction.

Posted on January 20th, 2004

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