I exercise regularly during my normal life. Can I continue to do so during IVF? Are there any activities I should avoid during IVF?
Dr. Klein answered:
Great question—this is something we’re asked a lot by our IVF and egg freezing patients (both processes use the same hormone medications).
Certainly, exercise has a positive affect on our overall physical and mental health. We also know that physical activity has benefits for fertility, specifically. A 2019 meta-analysis of studies on exercise and reproductive health outcomes (including the outcomes of fertility treatments) concluded that physical activity may help increase pregnancy rates, especially among patients with PCOS and overweight patients.
But when you’re going through IVF or egg freezing, there are other considerations. The hormone medications used for these treatments prompt your ovaries to produce multiple mature eggs in one menstrual cycle, as opposed to the single egg you usually ovulate. That means that, during an IVF or egg freezing cycle, the ovaries are larger than they are typically—they can grow from approximately ¾ inch in diameter to 2–3 inches in diameter.
This growth puts you at a higher risk of ovarian torsion, a situation in which the ovary twists around on the ligaments that hold it, sometimes cutting off the blood supply to the ovary. This complication is extremely rare, occurring in less than 0.5% of IVF or egg freezing cycles. Theoretically, certain exercises can increase the risk of ovarian torsion.
Generally speaking, low-impact aerobic exercise (like walking or using an elliptical machine), lifting light weights, and gentle yoga is okay. We advise our patients to refrain from strenuous aerobic activity or activities that require you to jump, twist, or flip your body—like CrossFit, kickboxing, gymnastics, running, or any inverted poses during yoga or Pilates—while taking your injectable medications, and until you get your period after your retrieval.
It’s good to keep moving, but if you’re typically a high-impact exercise person, it’s best to modify your routines so they’re gentler. If you’re not sure if your exercise regimen or activity is “strenuous aerobic activity,” just ask!
Remember, every cycle is different. If you have any questions about your cycle or a specific activity, reach out to your doctor.