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Fit to Be a Mom? How Exercise Affects Your Fertility
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15 Factors That Affect a Woman's Fertility

Video of the Day. Foods and Supplements for Ovarian and Uterine Health. Food for Healthy Ovaries. Diseases and Disorders of the Male Reproductive System. Foods to Enhance Reproductive Health. Foods High in Natural Estrogen.

Abdominal Pain With Spotting. How to Explain the Reproductive System to Children. Herbal Remedies for Ovarian Pain. Female Body Development During Puberty. As for whether it's safe to drink later in pregnancy, the jury's still out. Many doctors say a small amount of alcohol is OK, but the CDC and Surgeon General say it's best not to indulge since there is no proof that it's not harmful to the baby. Breastfeeding It's a myth that you can't get pregnant while breastfeeding, but at the same time, it's true that women who are still nursing one child may have trouble conceiving another one.

Otherwise, it may be better to wait at least a year and a half before having another child, anyway: Thing is, you can overdo it: It's not just an issue that affects very thin athletes, either. A study published in Fertility and Sterility found that normal-weight women who exercised vigorously for more than five hours a week had a harder time getting pregnant. The most obvious sign of a potential problem is a change in menstrual cycle, says Dr.

Injectable birth control Once you stop taking most forms of hormonal birth control, you can get pregnant within a month, says Dr. Depo-Provera, the injectable birth control. Doctors recommend women stop using injectable birth control several months before they hope to get pregnant. Schlaff, "but subclinical, undiagnosed hypothyroidism is certainly a recognized problem as well, and we know it can have subtle effects on fertility without a woman knowing it.

Caffeine If you're addicted to venti lattes, some studies suggest you may have trouble getting pregnant. A study from the Nevada School of Medicine found that caffeine interferes with the muscle contractions that help eggs travel from the ovaries and through the fallopian tubes to the womb, while a Danish study revealed that drinking five or more cups of coffee a day may cut a woman's chances of successful in vitro fertilization by half.

That said, other studies suggest caffeine plays no role in fertility. Medical conditions Health issues such as polycystic ovary syndrome, endometriosis, and uterine fibroids can affect a woman's chances of getting pregnant or successfully carrying a pregnancy to term.

Women with autoimmune disorders such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis may also have trouble conceiving, since their bodies may reject a fertilized egg or attack her partner's sperm.

In many cases, though, women with these health conditions can still get pregnant and have healthy babies, says Dr. Working with a medical team to manage and improve symptoms, and seeing fertility help if needed, can increase the chances for success. Such a misperception could have an impact on your health habits, which could then affect your fertility. Moreover, your ideal weight for hitting 5K PRs or fitting into your skinny jeans may not be the weight most conducive to conceiving.

It's about making your body healthy enough to carry a child. Research shows that 12 percent of infertility cases may result from being under that range and 25 percent from being over it. The two extremes tax the body in ways that disturb hormone production and ovulation, Dr.

Even so, BMI is not always the best way to assess how weight will affect reproductive function. The measurement is based on height and weight and doesn't distinguish between fat and muscle — and fit women have a lot of lean muscle mass.

William Schoolcraft, MD, founder and medical director of the Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine in Denver and author of If at First You Don't Conceive , often sends his patients to an exercise physiologist to measure their body fat percentage through skinfold-caliper or buoyancy testing instead. Ovulation is impaired if body fat is less than 12 percent or more than 30 to 35 percent, he notes.

On waking, use the device at the same time each morning to measure your temperature, and track it on a basal body temperature chart download one at womenshealth. The risk increases with exercise duration and intensity. Schoolcraft says, intense exercise sessions cause the body to break down the proteins in muscles, producing ammonia, a pregnancy-inhibiting chemical. It seems counterintuitive that something that makes you feel good and has been proved to protect your body against myriad diseases and health problems can actually be bad for your fertility.

Michelle Jarc, 36, a teacher in Cleveland, got the same message from her doctor after she suffered a miscarriage and tried unsuccessfully for nine months to conceive again. Although her weight put her in the normal BMI range, she was having irregular menstrual cycles.

Her doctor, who suspected that Michelle wasn't producing enough estrogen, put her on Clomid a prescription drug that induces ovulation and advised her to cut back on her workouts and, for good measure, gain a few pounds.

I was obsessed with being fit and maintaining my figure. But having a child became more of a priority," Michelle says. So she cut her twice-daily exercise routine to just one to minute-a-day workout and stopped worrying about what she ate. After that, conceiving was a cinch.

Today Michelle has four kids — a 5-year-old daughter, a 3-year-old son, and month-old twin boys — and is back to her prepregnancy weight and competing in 5Ks again. Yet for sedentary women the subtle physiological changes that come from increasing exercise can benefit their odds of conceiving.

Exercise improves metabolism and circulation, both of which contribute to better egg production. Regular activity also optimizes your reproductive system by stimulating the endocrine glands, which secrete hormones that help eggs grow.

Plus, getting your sweat on is a known stress reliever — a good thing, because stress significantly decreased the probability of conception in one study.

All those fertility-boosting benefits could help explain why some women find a bun in the oven shortly after stepping up their exercise routine. A doctor originally put the odds for Jennifer Marshall, 30, a marketing manager in Cincinnati with reproductive complications, to get pregnant at only 0. Fast-forward through seven years of tests, surgeries, and many artificial insemination attempts: Yet eight weeks into P90X — a home DVD-based workout and nutrition program that she started because she was bored with her less intense walking and biking sessions — she found herself staring at a plus sign on a pregnancy-test stick.

Whether exercise was the ultimate catalyst, Jennifer's docs can't say. But the new routine, which helped her lower her weight to at 5 feet 8 inches, she'd previously fluctuated between and , was all that had changed recently.

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