Should I Exercise During IVF?

date Wed, 09 Jun 2021

IVF and Exercise

If patients should maintain healthy exercise while trying to conceive – then what about during their IVF cycle? In vitro fertilization (IVF) requires a woman giving herself gonadotropin medication in the form of daily shots to stimulate her ovaries to recruit multiple eggs to mature in a menstrual cycle. There are many different protocols for IVF, but a typical cycle involves preparation before the cycle in the form of two to three weeks of birth control pills, two weeks of daily shots, an egg retrieval, an embryo transfer three to five days after the egg retrieval if a fresh embryo transfer or a period of seven to ten days after the egg retrieval if the patient is freezing all the eggs (egg cryopreservation/egg freezing) or embryos (eggs fertilized with sperm). The medications, multiple appointments, and recovery from the egg retrieval procedure can take a toll on our already busy lives, and many women describe bloating and fatigue during the process. Women may not feel like exercising during the cycle but maintaining low impact movement can improve mood and sleep – and speed up recovery.

Many women are told not to exercise at all during their IVF cycle, and this warning comes from the rare but real risk of ovarian torsion during IVF stimulation and recovery. The ovaries are suspended by ligaments on both sides, attached to the pelvic side wall on one end and the uterus on the other. Torsion is a process in which the ovary twists on itself, with the blood supply running through these ligaments getting cut off in the twisting process. One risk for ovarian torsion is IVF, when the ovaries are enlarged with developing follicles (the fluid-filled structures surrounding maturing eggs), but ovarian torsion is rare, occurring in 0.03% of IVF cycles (10). Ovarian torsion is a medical emergency and can require surgery to untwist the ovary to allow for blood circulation. Women with torsion describe ‘the worst pain of their lives’ associated with nausea or vomiting, usually sudden onset in the setting of a moving or twisting motion. It sounds dramatic, and it is (like testicular torsion), and I’m describing it in detail because women can have aches and pains during IVF stimulation, and I do not want women worried that those aches are torsion (review concerns with your doctor).

The general guideline for ‘no exercise’ in IVF is from the worry that patients may be at an increased risk of ovarian torsion while exercising with enlarged ovaries. Some recommendations for exercise during IVF to consider:

  • No high impact exercise with quick changes in body position.

  • Walking or light jogging, but no quick twisting.

  • Swimming, but no flip turns at the end of the lane.

  • Yoga, but no inversions.

  • No vigorous acrobatics (I’ve had patients who ask about trapeze and circus exercise during IVF – Nope!).

Talk to your doctor about advice for you, but consider walking, light jogging (but not near the time of retrieval), lifting light weights, and gentle yoga without significant twisting or inversions. Keep moving but modify your normal routine.

Leave a Reply

This site uses User Verification plugin to reduce spam. See how your comment data is processed.