Question: “Can I exercise while trying to conceive?”
Answer: Yes, but let’s be smart about what you do and when you do it.
Answering “yes” to “Can I exercise while trying to conceive?” can seem a bit controversial. Especially because when someone reaches the point of seeking assistance on their fertility journey (through a superovulation or IVF cycle), many doctors recommend avoiding high-impact and high-intensity workouts.
Perhaps it’s merely a matter of semantics along with cultural conditioning, but many of us don’t yet understand how exercise can be both gentle and highly effective. Exercise does not need to be intense and high impact to provide benefits. So let’s break it down together.
Generally, the bodily effect we are cultivating with gentle, mindful exercise during a fertility journey is optimal circulation and blood flow toward the reproductive organs. This helps with ovulation, endometrial lining, sperm production, and motility. In bodies where there is any kind of obstruction or trauma to reproductive organs, targeting circulation and blood flow toward these organs helps with healing.
Here are some forms of exercise to consider while trying to conceive :
Qigong for Fertility
Gentle Hatha Yoga*
*as a general rule, avoid inversions and twists unless specifically instructed to do so by a fertility-aware teacher. If you are taking drugs to stimulate your ovaries (like in an IVF cycle) then high-impact exercises or inversions and twisting can be painful and even dangerous. The weight of your larger-than-normal ovaries on your ovarian ligaments can get twisted and contorted (ovarian torsion) so gentle exercise is preferred because it is safe and still beneficial.
Let’s be clear, gentle does not always mean easy. Particularly in a society where most of us grow up thinking more is better, it can be difficult to slow things down and find simpler ways of doing things. Have you ever struggled trying to meditate? Pro tip… we all have 🙂 .
If we have tools and practices that help our mind stay present and compassionately aware while our body slows down, it is a fantastic opportunity to notice all of the subtle (mental, emotional, hormonal) signals that our body is telling us. Generally, qigong and yoga can help us regulate adrenaline and cortisol levels in our body by giving us an opportunity to notice what postures or movements elicit stress and using the breath to renegotiate that stress response. Qigong and yoga help us be present in our body with more vitality and sustainability in a world full of unavoidable stressors- especially when done gently and mindfully.
All doctors will agree that regulating adrenaline and cortisol is a key hormonal factor in optimizing fertility. By engaging in practices that reduce adrenaline and cortisol, heightened heart rate and blood pressure go down and circulation is directed toward digestive and reproductive organs for optimal cell regeneration and increased fertility.
Added Bonus: gentle, mindful exercise done on a regular basis creates momentum and ritual for you to get to know yourself more deeply- to be more involved in the optimal health and vitality of your own body, your future baby’s body, and by osmosis, those around you. Add acupuncture and low-level laser (LLLT) for fertility to your exercise program and you can really enhance the blood flow and circulation to your reproductive system while also reducing the negative effects of stress.
Let’s exercise a gentle, mindful way of supporting you and your family. It’s a small thing that makes a big difference in the world-yours and ours.