Q&A: Can hot yoga prevent ovulation?
I am 36 years old and trying for my second baby. My periods have become irregular due to a small cyst that recently formed on my left ovary. The cyst is now gone, according to an ultrasound. But I'm still experiencing irregular bleeding (frequent and light bleeding for several days at a time and with no consistent time pattern). I am also not getting any positive results from the ovulation predictor kits (OPKs), which I've been taking every day for three months. I have concluded that I'm not ovulating and my doctor has put me on Clomid (50 mg days five through nine).
With all of these symptoms, I have also started a new exercise program (about three months ago). I'm practicing a style of yoga in which the practice session is 90 minutes long and takes place in a room heated to 105 degrees.
My question is, could the heat from this style of yoga be messing up my cycles? Or could it be the cyst along with my age that is causing my lack of ovulation?
As you know, fertility can be difficult, so you want to avoid any behaviors that might prevent you from getting pregnant and to increase any activities that might help move things along. You are already taking positive steps, but you may want to discuss with your healthcare provider—or even a fertility specialist—additional ones.
First, the good news: Your cyst is gone, so that should no longer be a factor in preventing pregnancy.
But your age, which you can’t do anything about, may decrease your chances of conceiving. According to the American Pregnancy Association, as you age, your egg quality as well as your ovulation frequency go down. They conclude: “Women over 35 take longer to conceive. The average time it takes a couple over 35 to conceive is one to two years.”
With that in mind, I would suggest that you talk to your healthcare provider about your new exercise program. Again, your goal is to limit—or eliminate—any activities that prevent you from conceiving. Some fertility experts warn that very rigorous exercise may hurt your chances of getting pregnant. It’s a difficult balance—being overweight can pose fertility problems, but so too can being underweight. According to the respected Boston IVF (fertility experts), “normal menstrual function requires at least 22 percent body fat.”
Now for the heat. I don’t know of any specific studies on dry heat’s effect on fertility. There have been studies indicating wet heat (such as with hot tubs) can decrease a man’s sperm count. But as dry heat relates to female fertility, there are few scientific indications. I would suspect, however, that an increased exercise regimen coupled with high heat would not be helpful for your fertility. Again, talk to your healthcare provider in detail about any lifestyle changes you’ve made recently.
Finally, the Clomid dosage is a step in the right direction and should help you toward ovulating more regularly. I would caution, however, that Clomid’s potency can diminish the longer you’re on it, so you don’t want to waste it if the heat is adversely affecting your chances of conceiving.