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Exercise Positively Influences Fertility

Exercise is important for maintaining overall health and wellbeing, but it can also affect your chances of conceiving. When performed in moderation as part of a healthy lifestyle, it can help you reach and maintain a healthy weight, reduce stress, and may even increase blood circulation to your reproductive organs, all of which can directly or indirectly increase fertility. However, excessive exercise can also stress your body which can inhibit ovulation and interfere with the implantation of a fertilized egg.

Approximately 30 percent of the estrogen in your body is produced from fat cells, so having too much or too little fat in your body can cause hormonal imbalance. In fact, approximately 12 percent of all infertility cases are due to weight issues, and a body fat level of just 10 to 15 percent above or below normal can contribute to infertility, so it's important to exercise moderately to maintain a healthy weight and hormone balance.

The superfluous fat cells found in overweight and obese women can cause elevated estrogen levels, which can impair their ovulation, menstruation and conception. Being overweight also increases the amount of insulin produced, which may cause the ovaries to overproduce male hormones and stop releasing eggs. One study suggested that weight loss of as little as 11 pounds consistently improved insulin resistance, ovulation, and fertility in obese women.

Exercise has also been shown to significantly reduce stress, high levels of which can inhibit ovulation and menstruation as well as sperm health and motility. It also causes your body to release more endorphins, which not only gives you a psychological boost, it can help your body to deal with stress and pain more effectively as well. The physical benefits of exercise may also make you feel better about your body and more comfortable becoming intimate.

Conversely, women who exercise excessively can become underweight or have too little body fat, resulting in an estrogen deficiency which can cause oligomenorrhea (light or infrequent menstruation) or amenorrhea (cessation of menstruation). In addition, low weight or sudden weight loss can inhibit the release of GnRH (gonadotropin releasing hormone), which may decrease levels of LH and FSH hormones that are responsible for the development of eggs in the ovaries. These women may be technically fertile and have plenty of healthy eggs in their ovaries, but they may never be released due to their hormonal deficiency. With mild cases of weight loss, the ovaries may still produce and release eggs, but the lining of the uterus may not be ready to receive a fertilized egg because of inadequate ovarian hormone production. In more severe cases, ovulation may not occur and menstrual cycles are irregular or absent. Women who exercise too much also have been shown to have elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol in their bodies, which can impair ovulation as well as interfere with the implantation of a fertilized egg.

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