Exercising for Fertility
Kari Passe tried to get pregnant for seven years with no luck. Today she's expecting her first child. What was the key to her fertility success? Passe and her doctor believe it was her preconception weight loss. From about June until November, Passe lost 57 pounds; her husband lost 30 pounds as well. They found out they were pregnant that New Year's Eve.
Passe's doctor, Dr. Paul Silva, a fertility specialist at Franciscan Skemp Healthcare in Onalaska, Wisconsin, says the biggest impediment to getting pregnant he often sees in women is being overweight. A healthy body mass index (BMI) is between 20 and 25. It's also important to not be too thin or underweight for pregnancy—he sees those factors playing a role in infertility patients too.
Before attempting other fertility treatments, Passe says she and her husband wanted to try losing weight naturally as Dr. Silva recommended to them at their first visit. "Something we always wanted to do was to lose weight, but we just ignored advice," she says. Now with the long-time dream of having a baby at stake, they were motivated to exercise, limit sugar, and eat more whole grains.
Exercising regularly and eating healthy meals and snacks are two important areas to focus on to boost your health and to increase your fertility, experts say. To maximize fertility, maintain an optimal weight or lose weight if you're overweight or obese, says Dr. Ann G. Kulze, a nationally recognized nutrition expert, physician, author, and mother of four children in Charleston, South Carolina. The best way to accomplish an ideal weight is to exercise regularly the rest of your life, she says.
"Exercise is really the closest magic bullet to protect and to improve your health; there is nothing that comes closer," Dr. Kulze says. "If you can regularly exercise, your general health will be better." Exercise can help you lose weight, reduce stress, and improve sleep, Dr. Kulze says. In turn, all of those benefits can increase your fertility factors.
"People that exercise feel better about their bodies, so they enjoy having sex more," Dr. Kulze says. "You're more vibrant when you exercise. Let's face it—you can't get pregnant if you're not having sex."
Passe brought up her treadmill from her basement and put it in their bedroom. "It's the first thing I see right away in the morning now," she says. "I get on it right after I wake up."