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Exercise junkie TTC- do you have experience/ advice?

(11 Posts)
Lindsay81 Sat 15-Mar-14 08:28:59

My husband and I have been trying to conceive our first child for over a year now. Both about to turn 33, healthy and active etc.

The active part is what I am asking about. I do around 6 hours of high impact, strenuous cardio per week. A combination of BodyCombat, BodyAttack, BodyPump, 60minute Spin classes and one run/ week (7 - 12km).

The evidence on whether this high intensity cardio would affect my fertility seems to be mixed. Does anyone have any personal experience or had any advice from a fertility specialist?


wetnoodle Sat 15-Mar-14 09:06:49

Hi, I was doing a similar cardio mix to you about 10-12 hours/week while trying to get pregnant with DC2. Like you, I found all the evidence mixed and extremely unhelpful (e.g. How strenuous is strenuous?). When I suffered an early miscarriage during a spinning class (99% sure there was NO connection between the two) I decided to slightly modify my routine.

So, in the run-up to fertile days I kept up with all my activities (spinning, zumba, 90 mins hot yoga, etc). Then once I got a smiley face on my OPK I cut down a bit and then a bit more during the 2WW. Guess what? Didn't make a bit of difference.

I spoke to GP and she didn't seem concerned with the level of activity I was doing. I finally managed to conceive during the cycle I drank wine, exercised as much as I wanted and didn't take any prenatal vits.

If you're concerned speak to your GP and see if you can get a referral to a fertility specialist, or if you can afford it go and see a fertility specialist privately. Also, I recommend reading Expecting Better by Emily Oster - she covers exercise and a host of other conception and pregnancy related advice in a well researched and rational way. It really helped me.

Good luck! thanks

wetnoodle Sat 15-Mar-14 09:08:15

I would also constantly remind myself that Paula Radcliffe got pregnant and I knew my training wasn't anything like that! grin

Lindsay81 Sat 15-Mar-14 11:33:33

Thank you wetnoodle for your experiences. The Paula Radcliffe factor is obviously a common theme! Haha! I think that too. And I agree that it is very subjective; my routine might be strenuous for some or moderate for others.

My guy instinct is to carry on a normal and it seems like this also worked for you.

Do you mind me asking about your build/ body fat %? The running has really slimmed down my frame and cut down on fat.... Great until you read that 24% is the optimum for conceiving! I think I'm sitting around 19-20 at the minute. The thought of gaining fat terrifies me but I'd do it in the short term if it would help. Of this is too personal a question, please ignore!

wetnoodle Sat 15-Mar-14 17:42:25

In 5'4 and my body fat was around 20% when I finally hot pregnant. Lord knows what is now - I'm definitely not one of those ladies that's all bump with skinny arms and legs! I gain it all over...ugh

Ardiente Wed 19-Mar-14 07:42:09

I am a huge fan of Body Attack classes. We are TTC and I did some research: I read somewhere that high impact exercise might affect the implantation stage. I am not sure how accurate this is but in doubt, I decided to tone down the high impact stuff for part of the month. So I do low impact exercise after ovulation and resume high impact after period. The rest of your program seems fine since your body is used to this level of effort.

Lindsay81 Wed 19-Mar-14 08:09:41

Thanks for the replies :-) Like most of this stuff, it all seems pretty anecdotal and not one size fits all! ARGH! LOL I skipped last night, when I usually do Pump and then a Spin class. More just because I did spin on Monday And my knee has been a bit dodgy. But I am at 8dpo now and I must admit stressing slighty about going to the gym tonight. It might be a coincidence but I've started my period quite frequently during exercise. Might have a Look at the class timetable and see if there is a yoga class on, maybe go swimming after it. It can't hurt to take a week or so break I guess.....

clementinesandbananas Fri 21-Mar-14 17:55:32

Do you have regular ovulatory cycles? Do you get good cervical mucus (a lack of CM can suggest sub-optimal hormone levels)?

I've researched this a lot, and you might want to look into the so-called 'female athlete triad'. This most often presents as amenorrhea (lack of periods), but it can also reduce fertility in women who appear to be working normally.

The main message I came away with was that you need to be functioning with adequate 'energy availability' to ensure optimum fertility. EA takes into account your caloric intake and exercise (not just working-out but daily activities too) to work out how much extra energy your body has to use on other things. Only if it has enough will you be able to reproduce (since your body obviously doesn't want to reproduce if it considers itself to be in a time of famine).

Having regular ovulatory cycles and being a healthy weight/body fat is a good sign but not necessarily enough: you could be eating enough to maintain this but not enough to be fertile.

This is a useful website

There is some research which suggests that more than 5hrs/week of strenuous exercise is generally too much for optimum fertility and that the best body fat is around 22%. Obviously it's very individual, but you could try it for a month and see if it made any difference...

clementinesandbananas Fri 21-Mar-14 17:58:03

You could also try just switching to full-fat versions of milk/cheese/yogurt etc to try to convince your body that it's a time of plenty.

There's also the possibility that it's got nothing to do with your exercise levels and is something else entirely. So you may want to go see your GP now and get on the list for investigations: hopefully you won't need them but it's worth putting your name down.

barkingtreefrog Sat 22-Mar-14 09:01:58

I worry about this a lot. I went to see an acupuncturist a few months ago (my cycles hadn't come back post mc) and she basically told me to cut right down on the running to 'a gentle jog once a week'. She obviously didn't have a clue that this would be pointless from a fitness perspective. I was, at the time, running three or four times a week (twice with my running club) and fell racing. She also managed to imply that I was causing my body stress and I didn't have enough spare energy to get pg or sustain being pg (I suppose that relates to the EA you mentioned clementine) which had me in floods of tears on the way home as I felt like she was telling me the mc waa my fault. Anyway, fate, or sods law, stepped in and I injured my knee in a race and haven't been able to run since Christmas.... I am still cycling and doing circuit training though. Sod paula radcliffe, if jessica ennis can get pg..... The acupuncturist had an answer for that as well though. She said some women will have enough energy to do both, but I didn't. If I really wanted to get pg I would have to make the changes. At this point I wanted to slap her across the face. After 2 years of ttc and watching what feels like all my friends get pg, carry for 9 months and have babies, while I'm still ttc, ahe thinks I'm just not that bothered?!?! She didn't understand that being able to run was the only positive thing about not being pg. The thing I was holding onto as what I could do that my (formerly active) pg friends couldn't. In short, the only thing keeping me sane and my stress levels down. And she told me I should give it up.

I changed acupuncturist after that one appointment.....

Apologies for the essay, it's a bit of a touchy subject for me!!!

Lindsay81 Mon 24-Mar-14 22:17:39

clementines that is so helpful, thank you! I do have fairly regular cycles but limited CM. I have had my hormone levels checked and GP says all good.... But she calls a 21day progesterone level of 20 good, soooooo?! lol
It's funny you mention dairy because I just started doing that last month. It's not easy for me, I lost a lot of weight and it's scary to see even 1lb of it go back on again! But I know my fat levels are below that 22% level so I'm trying to (wo)man-up and just get on with it! Great reply and so informative- THANK YOU!

Oh my gosh barking so glad you changed acupuncturist! People who have never exercised that much find it difficult to understand, I think, and so saying "so just stop it" is like you saying to them "so go and run a half marathon right now!" I enjoy my regime and like you say, it's a great stress-buster for me. I don't want to change too much... So thinking of just trying to eat a bit more to sustain it.

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