Is Your Workout Affecting Your Fertility?
Can distance running cause you to stop ovulating?The relationship between strenuous exercise and menstruation is frustratingly complicated, says Nakajima, because it's hard to separate the workouts from factors like body weight, stress and energy levels. Amenorrhea, or chronic missed periods, affects up to 44 percent of women who exercise, and it's especially common in runners (24 to 26 percent), according to the American College of Sports Medicine. One theory is that if an exercise-aholic is burning more calories than she's taking in, the energy deficit can throw off her ovulatory cycle. Yet Nakajima adds that stress also plays an important role: He's heard of ballet dancers who've stopped ovulating while practicing, but when they get injured and take a break from dancing, they start having periods again—even though their weight doesn't budge. This could be because the stress of performing is lifted when they take some time off. If you're a runner (or any other kind of hard-core athlete) who hasn't gotten her period in at least two months, Nakajima suggests talking to your doctor about your daily caloric needs, and cutting your training by a third or a half—so you're better rested but not anxious about missing workouts.
Does cycling damage your lady parts?Women's health researchers at Yale University School of Medicine found that female cyclists who positioned their handlebars lower than their seats experienced more pressure on the soft tissue of the perineum and had decreased genital sensation. This kind of sustained pressure is associated with a decrease in blood flow as well as eventual nerve damage, adds Steinberg. He explains how that could affect fertility: Nerve damage can prevent you from climaxing, and there's some evidence that orgasmic contractions may be helpful in facilitating that crucial meet-up of sperm and egg. When riding your bike, position yourself so that most of your weight is on your sit bones, not toward the front of your crotch.
Should women who want kids be wary of upside-down yoga poses?"If a woman has an enlarged ovary due to fertility treatments, a tumor or any other reason, tumbling, gymnastics or extreme yoga poses could cause the ovary to twist on itself, cutting off the blood supply," says Nakajima. While he's seen some cases of this, he says it's relatively uncommon. Women taking oral or injectable fertility meds (or experiencing frequent, intense pain in their pelvic region) may want to check with their doctor before signing up for that advanced yoga class. But for most women, yoga is an unbeatable stress reliever—definitely a plus for someone trying to get pregnant.
As a reminder, always consult your doctor for medical advice and treatment before starting any program.
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