How to Exercise when you're doing IVF or Fertility Treatments

If you are used to working out, playing sports or exercising regularly, and especially if physical activity is essential to your mental wellness, you probably have some questions about how to move your body safely when you're doing IVF, IUI or on fertility medications.


The following are my guidelines for exercise during IVF or other fertility treatments. Please note that they are MINE. You, your doctor, and other professionals may have different ones. It is up to you to learn what is best for you. This is what I have learned based on my own research, the courses I have taken, and my experience.


Some people like to take it easy so that if the cycle is unsuccessful that they will not blame themselves thinking that they pushed their body too hard. Others find that slowing down or changing their exercise routine will leave them too anxious.


1. Listen To Your Body

Your intuition is a powerful and underutilized resource. Every body is different. Different bodies react differently to the same drug. The same body will react differently day-to-day. If your body is full of energy waiting to be released, listen to that. You don't have to do a certain workout just because it was scheduled, and especially not if your body is telling you "no". Be aware of the symptoms or side affects you are experiencing, both physical and emotional. Don't ignore the signals that your body is sending you.


2. Listen To Your Doctor

If your fertility doctor doesn't tell you if you should or shouldn't continue your normal workout routine, ask them. They may have a good idea of the common side effects of the treatment you are undertaking.


3. If you might be pregnant, exercise like a pregnant person.

This means during the two-week wait to take it easy. You can try gentle yoga (like fertility yoga), walking, or modifying your regular exercise. Avoid overheating your body or stressing yourself out. Certain books/doctors/professionals recommend stopping exercise altogether in the beginning of your pregnancy, but I think if I did that I would go nuts. Keeping your stress low during these two weeks should be your priority.



Here are some things to consider for ovarian stimulating drugs, IUI and IVF:


Clomid/Letrozole/FSH


If you experience bloating or sensitivity in the ovaries:

• Avoid abdominal twists

Avoid pressure to your belly, like crunches, deep squats, or pulling your knees to your chest


If you experience hot flashes:

• Skip the cardio for the days you're taking the drug


If you are told you are stimulating too fast:

• Avoid legs up the wall pose


IUI - Intra-Uterine Insemination (similar guidelines to a natural cycle)


Before:

• Exercise the way that feels good for your body

• Be aware of side effects from any drugs you're taking and modify your exercise accordingly


After:

• You may need some rest after the procedure

• Try some restorative yoga poses that create space for your belly (like reclined butterfly)

• Avoid abdominal crunches, twists or pressure

• Avoid stressing yourself out with your exercise or overheating the body

• Focus on your breath and on connecting to your body




IVF - In-Vitro Fertilization


Pre-stimulation Phase

• Any exercise that feels right for your body and level of energy, as long as it does not cause you to feel more stressed


Stimulation Phase

• Twists and legs up the wall may help stimulate the ovaries

• Avoid workouts that leave you exhausted

• Stop if you feel pelvic discomfort


Post-Retrieval

• Wait about 48 hours before resuming physical activity

• Prioritize keeping your stress low - use your breath and connect to your body through movement


Post-Transfer ‘The Two Week Wait’

• Restorative yoga and guided meditation in the first 48 hours

Wait for about 48 hours after the transfer before moving a lot

• Be aware of any swelling or discomfort

• Walking, swimming or slow flow yoga after the first 48 hours

• Avoid intense exercise

• Avoid becoming overheated, short of breath, or dehydrated

• Stop if you feel pain or discomfort when exercising


Again, these are guidelines, not hard rules. When in doubt, ask your doctor and listen to how your body is feeling and what it needs.


If you'd like to talk about your unique fertility journey, or if you'd like to practice fertility yoga with me, join our Empowered Fertility Warriors free Facebook group!

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About the

Author

Simone L'Abbé

Simone helps women heal from miscarriage and feel relief from the stress of infertility through body awareness, movement, breathing and meditation techniques. 

Simone is a yoga teacher in Toronto who specializes in Chair Yoga and Yoga for Fertility.