IVF and Physical Activity
By Francis Polansky, M.D.
It is a common misconception that a patient undergoing In Vitro Fertilization should “take it really easy.” This also includes the assumption that a woman should rest for an extended period of time after her embryo transfer.
Medical studies and clinical experience do not support such beliefs. As “technical” as conceiving with IVF may feel, it is best to try to mimic the spontaneous conception experience.
When couples conceive on their own, usually the first sign of the pregnancy is the lack of a menstrual period. A home pregnancy test may follow, and by the time the pregnancy is confirmed, it may be three or four weeks after implantation. All this time, the mother-to-be continues with her daily routines, occasionally including strenuous exercise.
It has always been our philosophy at Bay IVF to try to make the IVF experience as “natural” as possible. This is why we encourage our patients to continue their typical daily activities during their IVF treatment.
Exercise is helpful for a successful IVF outcome. Exercise by both the male and the female partners is associated with improved egg and sperm function and IVF outcomes. In one study, exercise was shown to increase the IVF pregnancy rate more than threefold.
We have never recommended that a patient should rest after her embryo transfer. In years past, we allowed the patient to decide whether or not she preferred to rest. However, recent studies showed that resting after embryo transfers may actually reduce the probability of a successful outcome. We now strongly encourage our patients not to rest and to immediately resume their normal daily routine.
There are three activities we ask our patients not to engage in during their IVF treatment: hot tubs, hot yoga, and going to the sauna. A significant increase in the body’s core temperature may jeopardize the pregnancy. Other than these, everything else is a go!