Our consultants and nursing team often get questions about exercising when you are TTC, or during IVF. In a nutshell, it’s less about how often you work out, and more about what kind of exercises you’re doing.
We asked Holly Rowland, our Continuous Improvement Lead in The Evewell nursing team, for her advice on what exercises you can do when either TTC or undergoing IVF.
30 August 2022
Can you work out during an IVF cycle?
IVF medications are given to stimulate follicle growth within your ovaries, with the aim to produce a good number of mature eggs. As a result of this, your ovaries can become enlarged and sometimes a little tender.
High-impact activity places stress on your body and may slow down this process. So we recommend when undergoing IVF, you should avoid high-intensity activities such as high intensity interval training (HIIT), weight training and intense cardio routines intense training sessions.
However, we don’t recommend stopping exercising altogether but instead advise to continue with low-impact exercises, such as swimming, walking or yoga provided that you do not experience any discomfort whilst taking part.
What are the best exercises to do during IVF?
Low-impact activities like swimming, walking and yoga are the best exercises to keep active whilst TTC or during IVF.
Swimming burns calories and tones, as well as being easy on your joints. Plus, a 60-minute swim can have the same cardio results as a 30-minute run.
Walking is another great option for exercising during IVF, particularly at a normal, steady pace, and although it may not feel like much of a workout, especially if you’re used to high-intensity routines, you can keep a brisk walk up for longer without overdoing it.
Light yoga is also an ideal form of exercise during IVF. Yoga can be restorative and helps keeps you fit and toned, without stressing out your body.
But always bear in mind that you need to tell your yoga instructor you are either TTC or undergoing IVF, so they can modify poses and allow you to participate as much as possible.
It is also important to listen to your body regardless of the activity you are doing. If you start to feel discomfort or you just need a rest day, make sure you look after yourself. It’s OK to put your feet up once in a while!
What exercises should you avoid during IVF?
Exercises that are an absolute no no during IVF include heavy weightlifting, including kettlebells and other heavy equipment, and contact sports.
The only exception is if these sports are already part of your regular exercise routine, or you are a trained fitness professional. In these circumstances, modifying your routines to allow for lighter weights or exercises would be strongly recommended.
What are the risks associated with exercising during IVF?
It’s worth bearing in mind that sometimes too much exercise when either TTC or undergoing IVF may affect your chances of getting pregnant as it can put your body under even more stress.
We recommend avoiding activities that could injure or put extra stress on your uterus or stomach. And if you are practising yoga in particular, be careful to avoid positions that place pressure on your stomach, or strenuous workouts.
It’s important to consider these risks and discuss any concerns with one of our consultants before commencing your IVF cycle.
When can you start exercising after an embryo transfer?
We often get asked what will help improve my chances of pregnancy after embryo transfer, and within this – the question about what you can and can’t do always arises!
The first 24 hours after an embryo is transferred are the most critical. It’s within this period that an embryo attaches itself too the uterine wall, which may take several days. Therefore, we recommend for at least the first day at least, relax, put your feet up and watch Netflix. Doctor’s orders!
We also recommend that you avoid hot baths, hot tubs and saunas, heavy lifting and any kind of rigorous exercise, but equally, you know your own body and it’s important to use your common sense; you can go to the loo (it won’t fall out – we get asked that a lot!)
Is it safe to work out during the two-week wait?
The two-week wait is the window between ovulation and your period, or if you’re undergoing IVF, it’s the two-week period between embryo transfer and when you need to take your pregnancy test.
Exercise during this period shouldn’t be an issue, especially if you were physically active before your IVF treatment.
We don’t recommend running a marathon, but equally, you don’t need to confine yourself to bed rest! Keeping to light exercise, such as swimming, walking and yoga is a good idea, both for your body and mind.
It’s worth bearing in mind that regular movement helps to enhance blood flow, which in turn equals better oxygen circulation throughout the body, promoting healthy cell and tissue growth. And all this greater blood flow can all help to contribute to successful implantation.
So, the message is: don’t go on bedrest during your two-week wait, instead, keep active but don’t over-do it!