Exercise During IVF
Part of what keeps me sane is movement.
Sometimes this involves an advanced Pilates class. Sometimes it’s a stroll around my neighborhood. It can include stretching, lifting, sweating, jumping, riding, pulling or pushing.
I just need some form of exercise every day to feel my best , both mentally and physically.
So when I was going through infertility for over two years and then two rounds of IVF, one of the hardest things was knowing what exercises I should and shouldn’t do.
There isn’t a lot of information out there about exercise during IVF, and I was desperate to figure out what I could safely do.
During the infertility months themselves, I did a lot of experimenting to see how I felt with various types of exercise. I avoided high impact exercises after ovulation (so that it wouldn’t impact implantation.) I stopped spinning classes only because I felt like I was exerting myself too hard and would almost get sick afterwards. I continued to lift heavy weights because it felt good and helped my stress relief, and I kept up my cardio with hikes and stair climbing. Pilates and yoga were a constant in my life.
I also used this workout video quite a bit to help with my endometriosis pain and to keep my hips loose.
* Please note I never lost my period or experienced hypothalamic amenorrhea. If this is you, you may be advised to decrease or stop exercise all together. Always consult with your doctor to determine what’s best for you and your situation. You can read about my specific experience with infertility here and here.
I had my routine and it worked well for me.
When we started the IVF journey, everything changed, and I needed to figure out what exercise during IVF was ok for me and my body.
I was told I could workout regularly up until the time the injections began. At that point, I would need to limit my workouts and follow specific precautions.
I knew I wanted to do everything I could to help IVF be successful, so I was intent on following the doctor’s instructions.
At the same time, I know my body, and I know I have to move. In my belief, an important component of what makes our visions and goals happen is a positive attitude. In order for me to personally stay positive and still feel like myself, I needed some form of movement or exercise every day.
I ended up creating two workouts that I used during both of my rounds of IVF. They helped me to feel good physically and decrease my stress mentally.
The first workout I used to help prep my body for IVF. It included a lot of mat exercises I had already been doing, plus a few to specifically help detox my body and improve circulation and pelvic mobility.
One of the keys to fertility is circulation in the uterus. With my endometriosis, I knew I needed an extra dose of circulation throughout my abdominal cavity to help pump out stagnant blood and prevent scar tissue from forming.
One of Joseph Pilates’ original goals with his work was to increase circulation and help our bodies detoxify, so I knew Pilates mat work would be key to helping me prepare for my fertility treatments.
I kept up my regular workouts and included this one at least every other day. It helped me feel like I was doing something good for my body and helping it get ready for the journey ahead.
Things change a little once you start the “stimming” period of IVF.
Typically clients are advised against any intense exercise during this time. This includes no jumping, running or jogging (which means no box jumps, jump squats, jumping jacks or plank jacks).
People undergoing IVF are also told to avoid any twisting movements during the injection portion of the IVF cycle. The reason is possible injury to the ovaries themselves and severe complications for the woman.
The goal during the “stimming” portion of IVF is to create as many viable follicles and eggs as possible on each ovary. This is very carefully monitored by your doctor. The result of these increased follicles and eggs are heavy ovaries. You can literally feel a bloating and heaviness in your tummy by the second or third day of injections. This is your ovaries starting to grow and get bigger and heavier.
If you were to do any jumping or torsion/twisting activities during this time, you could possibly cause the ovary to twist on itself. This is known as an ovarian torsion and can cut off blood supply to the ovary. It leads to extreme abdominal pain on the affected side and could cause the need for surgery.
Because of this, it’s extremely important to follow your doctor’s guidelines during your IVF cycle.
After talking to my doctor and reproductive acupuncturist and doing my own research, I created a ten minute stretch workout that I felt was safe and also helped me to feel better during the injections. I also walked 30 minutes every day, which helped me get some fresh air and release some stress.
I did this combination of my IVF Workout for the Stimming Period and walking right up until my embryo transfer. At that point I was told to be on bed rest for three days following the embryo transfer. When the three days were over and I was sure I felt good again, I started right back up with that same workout routine. As I recovered and felt stronger, I started adding some light weights and additional stretching. After about 3 weeks I felt I was back to the routine I was following before the injections began.
While exercise is hugely important to our general health and there are studies showing the positive impact exercise has on fertility, working out during IVF carries it’s own complications (source). You can still safely exercise during your fertility treatments, but you want to make smart decisions and do everything you can to help keep your body safe and ensure a positive outcome. Every person is different and exercise can feel different to everyone, so it’s important that you listen to your body and always consult with your doctor and health care providers.
My two IVF Workout Videos helped me stay strong and peaceful during a time that can feel chaotic. Moving every day helped me feel I was taking some control back over my body. It gave me time to process what I was feeling and send lots of love and positive messages both to my body and our possible future baby.
I hope they can help you or someone you love do the same.
I’m sending you lots of positive thoughts for whatever journey you are on!