Superwoman Workouts May Affect FertilityPosted on Nov 11th 2009 3:00PM by Ashley Neglia
Filed Under: Fitness
Need an excuse to dial back your workouts? Well, ladies, you've got it. New research from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology found that the risk of infertility was more than three times great for women who exercised to the point of exhaustion compared to those who exercised moderately.
Smoking, stress, alcohol and being extremely under or overweight can all affect a woman's chances of becoming pregnant, but elite athletes seem to have a more difficult time conceiving compared to other women. According to researchers, extreme physical activity seems to be partially to blame.
The 10-year study followed 3,000 women who were healthy and in their childbearing years from the 1980s to 1990s. Those who trained every day to exhaustion -- 24 percent of the subjects -- had the highest risk of infertility. "When we compared those who trained to exhaustion to those who trained more moderately, we found that the first group had a three-fold greater risk of impaired fertility," said study author Sigridur Lara Gudmundsdottir, a Ph.D. candidate in NTNU's Human Movement Science Program.
Scientists believe that super intensive workouts drain energy stores in the body, so much so that the body doesn't have enough strength to maintain the hormonal functioning that enables fertilization.
For those ladies who still want to hang tough in the gym but have aspirations of procreation in the future, worry not. According to researchers, the effects of hard training do not appear to be permanent. "The vast majority of women in the study had children in the end. And those who trained the hardest in the middle of the 1980s were actually among those who had the most children in the 1990s," said Gudmundsdottir.
For those women on the other side of the spectrum who are hoping that this is their "Get Out of Gym Free" card, you're still out of luck. Research has shown that moderate physical activity actually increases fertility by improving hormone functioning. In contrast, being overweight and inactive can not only cause ovulation problems, but it also seems to impair fertility in obese women who ovulate normally.
Having trouble conceiving? Ask your doctor about the fertility diet.