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Posted by on Nov 17, 2019 in Infertility | 0 comments

In a nutshell

This article reviewed the effects of exercise on infertility symptoms in women.

Some background

Infertility is a problem for many couples. There are many causes of infertility for both men and women.  One of these causes is being overweight or obese (having a body mass index between 25 and 40).  Another factor is irregular periods. Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a disorder that causes hormone imbalances in women and can reduce fertility.

Exercise can help to reduce weight and has been shown to prevent and reduce symptoms of many diseases. Exercise can also reduce the risk of diabetes during pregnancy and postnatal depression.  Exercise can also balance hormone levels and improve symptoms of PCOS. However, it is less clear if exercise can improve symptoms of infertility in women.

Methods & findings

This article looked at the results of 18 studies assessing how exercise affected different symptoms of infertility in women. In total, 2035 participants were included. Of these, 769 women were prescribed exercise. The remaining participants received a standard fertility treatment only. Participants were followed for an average of 6 to 32 weeks.

Exercise was associated with a 2.1-fold higher pregnancy rate. 52.1% of women who underwent an exercise plan became pregnant compared to 23.5% of women who did not participate. Women who exercised also had a higher pregnancy rate compared to women who received fertility treatments such as hormone therapy or IVF (57.8% vs. 41.4%). Additionally, 17% of women became pregnant after exercise, compared to 11.2% who underwent diet changes or treatments for PCOS.

Exercise was also associated with a 2.11-fold higher birth rate. 42.2% of women had a live birth after regularly exercising compared to 19% of women who did not. There was no difference between the birth rate with exercise compared to fertility treatments. Lifestyle changes, including increased exercise, were associated with a 2.45-fold higher birth rate than hormonal treatment with a contraception pill.

60% of women experiencing irregular periods showed regular periods after exercise.

Exercise also increased the conception rate (the fertilization of an egg). 26.1% of women conceived after exercise compared to 16.2% of patients who received standard treatment. Exercise was also associated with a 1.42-fold higher ovulation rate (the release of an egg) compared to other treatments such as diet changes and treatments for PCOS.

The bottom line

The authors concluded that exercise may improve pregnancy rates and other symptoms of infertility in women.

The fine print

The studies used in this review had different designs and setups, which may bias the results. Several of the studies also lacked control groups. Most studies also did not describe the type, frequency, or intensity of exercise undertaken by participants. 

What’s next?

Talk to your doctor about the benefits of exercise.

Published By :

Human Reproduction Update

Date :

Jun 22, 2019

Original Title :

The effect of physical activity on reproductive health outcomes in young women: a systematic review and meta-analysis.

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