For females, over exercising can become a problem when it leads to being underweight. When body fat falls below twelve percent of total body weight, it may interrupt ovulation. Body fat is used to store oestrogen. Low levels of body fat will reduce the amount of oestrogen. This in turn will affect ovulation and the menstrual cycle.
If a female engages in intense exercise for more than one hour per day, she is at risk of depleting her hormone levels. This can lead the ovaries to become under active which may then cause an under production of oestrogen and eggs. In addition, the endorphin’s released from exercise can suppress follicle stimulating hormone and luteinising hormone. This will further exacerbate irregularities in the menstrual cycle.
Male infertility should not be forgotten since it accounts for 40% of all fertility cases. It is common for men who are experiencing problems with their sperm to also engage in excessive exercise such as cycling and triathlon. Such activities may cause prostate irritation, lower testosterone and place stress on the body. Research has found that men who moderately exercise for one hour three times a week, are more fertile than those who train longer and harder (such as triathletes and marathon runners).
In order to maximise the chances of falling pregnant it is best for both men and women to follow two bits of advice in regards to exercise and weight management. Firstly, to engage in moderate exercise, and secondly to keep body weight within a healthy range (BMI 18 to 24.9).
*This is the eleventh of a list of 13 myths concerning conception which was compiled by Dr Minna Geisler from The Waterstone Clinic in Ireland.