Exercise, Weight, and IVF

After a couple of cycles of IVF, I started to notice that that post-retrieval bloated look wasn’t really going away between cycles.   Yep, it was that dreaded cycle weight gain, 5 pounds or so per cycle.  After every cycle, I would start exercising again, get in some minimal amount of shape, lose a bit of the weight, start to feel better in my skin, and then it was time to cycle again.  Cr*p.

After my last cycle with my own eggs, I decided to take advantage of the situation to get really serious about getting fit again.  And can I tell you about the subsequent love affair with lifting really heavy stuff, and the total getting-in-fab-shape-itude that resulted, brought about by this fantastic book?  No?  Dang.

But in any case, what you need to understand is I love to exercise.  It not only makes short shrift of the IVF pudge, it makes me feel great.  As in sane.  As in something that is sadly missing in my IVF cycles, and I would like to have more of.

So that is why I got curious about whether it is OK to exercise during IVF cycles.  There’s surprisingly little information about this out there, so this is my small contribution.

Usual disclaimer: I am not a doctor, just a curious person.  This is what I found out but I may have missed something big.

1. Why do we gain weight when we are doing an IVF cycle?

I used to think that the weight gain was because I was doing comfort eating – lying on the sofa chowing frozen pizza instead of my usual veggie-intensive home-cooked dinners.  But for my most recent cycle, I was tracking my weight daily.  I was slowly (very slowly) losing weight before the cycle, thanks to my awesome weight-lifting routine.  On the day I started on the pill, my weight loss slowed even more.  One might even say I started gaining.  But that was nothing compared to the day I started Decapeptyl (this is basically the same thing as Lupron).   The day after I started taking it my weight started shooting up.  And it continued to skyrocket until I flew to my clinic just before retrieval… at which point I didn’t have my scale any more, so we don’t know what happened.  You should note that my exercise and diet did not change at all during all of this.

So where is this weight coming from?  Obviously, when you do a retrieval you get mighty bloated afterwards, and a lot of that weight is water weight which goes away again after things clear up.  But as far as I can tell the Lupron is playing a different role.   Unfortunately, I don’t remember where I read about this and so there is the chance that I am actually making this up (have I mentioned that I am not a doctor?), but my understanding is that Lupron alters your metabolism so that you are more likely to store carbohydrates as fat.  Once you go off the Lupron, you have high estrogen levels – from your leaky punctured follicles if you had a retrieval, from the estrogen patches or pills if you are on a DE or frozen cycle – and estrogen has the same effect.   Presto, weight gain.

Note: there may be other sources of weight gain that I know nothing about, this is what I did find out about.

2. So if I go on a low-carb diet during my cycle, will I avoid gaining weight?

Maybe.  But in my totally unprofessional opinion, it is probably not a good idea to be on a diet during your cycle.  You want your body to believe that it is not facing a famine – supplies are lush and there is plenty of food around to support little ones, so go ahead, baby, get pregnant!

3. I heard that it’s not good to exercise during your cycle.  Why is that? Because, frankly, I will go insane if I don’t exercise.

I hear ya, sister.  And it is for this reason that I searched in the bowels of Fertility and Sterility to find out more about the relationship between exercise and IVF.   There wasn’t much there. Here is what I did find out.

First, exercising during or after stims is a really bad idea because it can lead to ovarian torsion. “Ovarian torsion” is when your giant, swollen ovaries decide in their sympathy with your movement to do a cartwheel in your belly, thereby twisting off their blood supply.  As you might imagine, if this happens you will be in pain like you would not believe.  And unless you get to a hospital pronto and they untwist your ovary, you will lose it.  And that is something no infertile gal needs in her life.

What’s worse, even exercise the month after your cycle can lead to ovarian torsion, as this case study attests (warning: this is a pretty horrific story).   This is pretty rare, though.  One of my non-RE doctor friends told me that that didn’t need to stop me from exercising, I should just make sure that if I get terrible belly pain the month after stims I should rush to the hospital and make sure they check me for torsion.

Second, there might be a correlation between long-term exercise and problems in IVF cycles.  I only found one very short article about this so you might want to take this with a grain of salt.  And the gist of the article is not really actionable – what they showed was that it didn’t matter if you were exercising regularly now or not, but if you had been exercising regularly for at least 5 years, then you were at a higher risk for bad cycle outcomes (cancelled cycles, BFNs, chemicals).  It’s not clear why, it’s also not clear whether this holds true even if you account for low BMI (which is associated with worse cycle outcomes).

Now there are always a lot of studies that show correlations between various things and better cycle results (whole milk ice cream, anyone?).  Personally, I don’t think you need to live your life around this kind of thing.  But you might want to ask your RE what s/he thinks.

4. I’m not stimming – I’m doing a DE cycle / a frozen cycle.  So can I exercise?  Huh, huh, huh?

I guess you should probably ask your RE.  But if you want some free assvice which is worth what you pay for it, I say sure, go ahead – I did.  And let me tell you what was so great about it.

Like many people, Decapeptyl (i.e., essentially, Lupron) made me feel terrible.   Normally, I am a chipper morning person, but on Decapeptyl I have massive trouble dragging my poor sad body out of bed.  I also get a headache, am exhausted, can’t concentrate, etc.  But by exercising during my cycle I discovered that intense exercise made me feel 100% better, really quickly, and the effect lasted for quite some time after the exercise.  It was hard to believe when I woke up in the morning feeling like I got hit by a truck, but once I had dragged myself to the gym and started working out, I felt better right away.  Intense exercise that required concentration (have I mentioned how much I like lifting heavy weights?) totally dispelled the Decapeptyl fog.  It was like a f*cking miracle.

And this, my dear reader, is also how I found out the following amazing fertile fun fact, which to my knowledge is completely undocumented in the world of infertility blogs – I told my clinic about it and they did not know it either, so chalk one up for me, your amateur infertility sleuth.  I was amazed that even though the Decapeptyl made me feel like a hungover sloth, it did not seem to affect my athletic performance at all.  In fact, if anything, I was performing substantially better than usual… e.g. I improved one of my lifts from 7 kg to 9 kg in 2 weeks – an improvement of 30%, highly unusual).  That was when I remembered something I had read about a while ago… that Lupron is on the International Olympic Committee’s list of doping drugs.  That’s right, gals, for all the horrible side effects that Lupron and Decapeptyl hand us, they hand us one positive side effect as well - they make it really easy to build muscle.  As far as I can tell in my totally unscientific opinion, they do this because they block your estrogen production.  So take advantage of it while you can, until your estrogen patches/pills kick in.

Did I get something wrong?  Do you know something else about exercise and IVF?  Please add in the comments – I’d love to know!

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63 Comments »

  1. chicklet said

    This was great, thanks for looking into it so much!

    Re the “during stims”, I come from both sides of that equation where I always got BFN’s but I also had a cycle without exercise and a cycle with, so I can’t say that lack of exercise helped me unfortunately.

    Re when you’re not stimming, I’m not a professional either but all my research shows that it’s good for you, it helps balance a lot of the bad and discomfort, and overall can produce better results. Look at me with a surprise BFP while training for a half marathon… :-)

  2. aliya said

    Hi, i took a shot of decapeptyl as i am undergoing IVF treatment and my doctor has told me to come back on the first day of my period, does decapeptyl elongate the time the next period comes??

    Thanks
    Aliya

    • nishkanu said

      Decapeptyl shuts down your ovaries which can certainly change the length of your cycle. I don’t remember if it gets longer or shorter though… and it probably depends on the person to some extent.

  3. Kathleen said

    First of all you are flippin’ awesome! Thank you so much for every word on this blog. I start my Lupron next Monday, I am doing IVF with egg donation. So when you say “stim” I am assuming you mean stimulating the ovaries, correct? I won’t have any of that so I think I should be all good and I LOVE LOVE LOVE lifting weights as well. I am so super excited. I was freaking out that I wouldn’t be able to workout. I will be tracking my weight and calorie intake. I don’t want to gain weight and I won’t be crazy about it. If I am eating right and working out and it comes on then it just does. Thanks again for everything.

    • Hi Kathleen,
      I know you wrote this entry in 2009 – and today it is May 2013. I was wondering how everything went for you. I identified with your story because I am also doing donor and I start Lupron this coming Monday. I have a lot of fear around it from all that I have been reading – but you seemed to excited. If you have any wisdom to share I would truly appreciate it. I hope this finds you well and successful on the baby journey. ~colleen

  4. Well, I found this post a hundred years late, but I’ll go ahead and comment anyway.

    This is great information (what an awesome “fun fact”- I’ll definitely add weights to my regimen!). My RE had scared me away from exercise (I’m a runner) during this cycle, but as I jumped on the scale this morning, day 4 of Lupron (ivf #1), and I’ve gained FIVE EFFIN POUNDS, I think I’ll go ahead and do some running during this down-regulation phase. I have no need to keep a tight body, but as I worked really dang hard to lose weight over the course of the last 2-3 years, I’m a little upset over this relatively quick weight gain. And if I gain this much this quickly during the Lupron, god KNOWS how much I’ll gain when I start stimming… shiiiit.

    So yeah. I quit weights a few months ago because I was streamlining my training (in school, no time, and running took priority), but now, with this extra Olympic-forbidden perk, I’ll add them back in and see what it can do for my sanity.

    Thanks for taking the time to type this out in such a clear and concise (and well-documented!) way.

  5. kate said

    Hi, I loved this blog! Although I want to say that my results were unfortunately different. I just finished my second IVF cycle, and my results this time were so much better than the first time I did it (back in April 2009). The difference? I have not exercised, and that is the only thing I have changed. I am someone who exercises five times a week, running and hardcore yoga. Since my results in April were not so great, I decided to basically be a saint on this round of lupron, follistum, etc and do nothing physical at all. I have to say, I made “gorgeous” embryos (in the words of the Dr.) and am implanted right now, with a dozen in the “freezer’! I have been taking it as easy as possible since the implant, and (unfortunately) won’t be exercising anytime soon. But if being a couch potato gets me a baby, I am happy to oblige. Good luck to everyone!

    • Anonymous said

      Hi, I don’t know if you are still available to chat. I am on my 5th IVF (first two were with my eggs, the rest with donors). Regarding exercise, when did you stop? When you started your shots? Or, when they started to down regulate you with birth control?
      Not a couch potato either but this might be our last chance.

  6. Lynn said

    I have my doubt if the exercise has anything to do with infertility. Correlation is not causation. Before we knew that HPV virus caused the majority of cervical cancer cases, there was a research that concluded that girls who did houseworks were half as likely to get cervical cancers as their counterparts. It turns out that it’s only a correlation. Religious girls tend to be brought up to do houseworks and have fewer sexual parters. It’s the “fewer sexual partners” that puts them in a lower risk and it has nothing to do with houseworks at all.

    Women who exercise 4 times a week or more tend to be very discipline. The same discipline makes them more successful in their careers. Successful people also tend to be more competitive and more stressed out. Stress is very hard to measure. We can’t stick a thermometer or do a blood test to measure how stressed out one is. So, researches often base their hypotheses on objective measurements like a number of times a week one exercises.

    • nishkanu said

      I personally also doubt there is any link. A lot of REs say “don’t exercise” but it is astonishing how little data there is available that shows any link, and the studies that there are don’t say anything particularly impressive. Having said that I am not going to tell anybody to go against their RE’s advice…

    • Anonymous said

      Here, here!!!

  7. fagaffori said

    I highly enjoyed reading your blogpost, keep on writing such exciting articles!

  8. Jem said

    Found this post via Creme de la Creme.

    During my fresh IVF, I wanted to excercise, but there was so much going on in there, plus the stress of the injections, the litter of kittens in my belly, that I didn’t excercise.

    I’m on a FET cycle and I feel I need to excercise and feel like it’s the best thing for my body. I’m not over-excercising, just keeping active.

    That said, started PIO last night and I don’t want to move today. Go figure.

    • Michelle Walters said

      Hi Jem,

      Your post is ME word for word. I’m on an FET cycle, just got implanted and the meds/injections make me feel so rough that I am dying to exercise. Exercise is my dope and it takes willpower to resist it every day.

      Just curious…what is PIO?

      Also, when you say “keeping active” does that mean walking on a treadmill? Jogging? Or just up and about?

      Thank you!!

  9. moverall said

    thanks for the info. the question of exercise has been a huge question mark for me and it is interesting to hear other experiences and attitudes. i have heard lots of answers from lots of drs, nurses and concerned parties about how much and what kind of exercise is acceptable. i have been a 6 day a week-er mixing weights, cardio and mma but after trying for 2 years to get pregnant naturally with a ‘unexplained infertility’ diagnosis, i have of course considered and analyzed EVERY possible influencer. these are the few pieces of advice i am choosing to heed regarding exercise:

    no pounding exercise, no mma and no crunch/ab type work while on stims (that horrible torsion issue)

    after possible insemination through the results, wear a heart rate monitor and do not let your HR get above 140 because this is the level for most woman that would affect the flow of blood to the uterus.

    generally, exercise is good but slowly decreasing the intensity (if you were intense to start) is a good idea and moderation in general is best.

    i also have heard from a few sources – and this one might sound crazy but i am inclined to buy it – that having tight abductors can also affect blood flow to the uterus. i try to do a lot of stretching in that area to offset tightness from spinning and kicking in mma. i would not really have thought it mattered until i had some ‘body work’ sports massage and the crazy russian worked on my abductors and after i was over the INCREDIBLE pain i could not believe the amount of ‘activity’ and ‘energy’ i felt in that area. so maybe….?

    i started lupron a little over a week ago for my first ivf cycle. i have in that time, between a month on the pill, the lupron and the holidays, gained 10 pounds but i am trying VERY hard not to stress about it and to turn it in to an opportunity to ‘clean up’ my eating (not bad but could be better) as a way to hopefully offset the weight and generally help create the best possible environment for a baby.

    good luck to everyone!

    • nishkanu said

      Thank you for the extensive and informative comment! Good luck with your IVF cycle, I hope you have success.

  10. Tara said

    Great blog! Of course I am pro anybody who tells me it is ok to get my endorphins! I am right about to start IVF next week and am totally confused on the cardio part.

    So what you are saying is to keep my HR below 140. Why is a high HR bad? I normally bike for an hour a day and wear a heart monitor to achieve my goals (over 140.) Is it the excessive heat the body creates? Is it also bad to do laps in a non-heated pool?

    My most important question is if you are not supposed to move after the transfer? Are you supposed to sit on a couch for a week to hope it implants? Any help would be appreciated!

    Thank you so much for your info!

  11. chrissy said

    scared..running is my drug but want a baby so we started ivf this week….what can i do..very confused…

  12. chrissy said

    want to run and am scard of weight gain but want a baby!!

    • megan said

      You are right, there is not much out there on cardio while going through the IVF process. I just had my transfer on Saturday. I am 39 and I worked out up until the day of my egg retrieval. Running 4 days a week for an hour or more as well as classes at the gym. I don’t think I could have gotten through the stress of the injections and hormones without it. I ended up producing 7 good eggs and they all lasted to the blastocyst stage and 4 of them were an “A”, which I guess is good. They told me not to run or do anything strenuous until my pregnancy test. Since this is my first round of IVF I am going to follow their rules.

      I am a firm believer that your body can tolerate whatever it is initially used to. I actually think if you are used to working out, you should be able to continue, but of course I am not a doctor.

      Hopefully laying off will produce a baby!

      Good luck to all of you!

      • Mandy said

        What a great blog. I’m 46, based in Dubai and on my first ICSI. I statrted my period yesterday and injected myself with Decapeptyl an hour ago. I’ll be doing that now for 14 days and going for a scan in a week.

        I also train four days a week and am in a right tizz about what to do. I reckon that if I ask my Dr, she’ll tell me to stop but I sooo need it for my sanity. I do weights and ab work and am really worried about the effect, (though I’m still doing it!!!) I also use the X trainer, which I would have thought would be more sensible. Maybe I’ll do more on that front. I’ll be injecting myself with Puragen and a growth hormone tomorrow as well and for those of you really nervous about injecting yourself I have to day that it’s not so bad. The thought is worse than the deed.

        I think that for once, I’m going to stop going on the scales. Seems the best way forward for me.

        Thanks ladies and good luck to all of you:)

        Mandy x

      • Hey mandy…I know this is a few years later, but I’m in the exact same boat. 7 eggs etc. 4 grade 1 blasts. I’m a Les mills instructor and am going slightly batty with zero working out since i’ve been doing 5-6 classes a week for 5-6 years. i’d love to know how things turned out. CHeers

  13. Esti said

    I hope all worked out Mandy. I am starting my first ICSI injections on friday and must admit that I am scared. Not scared of the needle, but of the side effects. I am a very active person. A month ago, I still played provincial netball and now I am supposed to take it slow. That means no exercise. That just kills me. I think to keep myself from falling appart, I will “walk” on the treadmill and just take the exercise slow. I am on Menopur & Lucrin. Extremely excited.

    Good luck to all the ladies on this site.
    Esti xx

  14. Ange said

    This was the best blog I’ve read!! Thanks so much to all contributors! I’m so relieved to think that there’s others out there that are feeling exactly the same! I’m an avid runner and I enjoy the gym too… From all the reading (and apart from just being confused because so much of it conflicts) this is my plan:
    I’ve been on Lucrin for 9 days and I start Puregon tomorrow morning. Throughout this time, I’m still working with a personal trainer twice a week, still doing weights but avoiding the ab area. Also trying to keep the heart rate to lower than 140ish. I agree about the weights and Lucrin… I’m lifting (in some cases) almost 10kg more in 1 week! No wonder it’s banned, I’m feeling great! I’ve also lost a kg or two on Lucrin which is weird… hope it’s not water I’m injecting!! LOL. I’ve replaced running to time on the cross trainer which is meant to be just as good. I’ve spoken to my personal trainer about this, and he hasn’t had anyone in this situation, so we’re just trying to be as sensible as possible with it, and make some informed judgements that will suit me. In all, the best advice I had was to do what felt best. I’m not over doing it, but would go insane if I became a couch potato. This is my first cycle, so my guess is as good as the next person’s!! Good luck everyone!!

  15. melanie said

    It is so good to hear other women going through the same things… I am an avid exerciser and I exercised through out the stimming period which was bad since I went from 14 follicles to 4. On the day of retrieval there was only one egg. I get the implant fertilized egg tomorrow (IVF) and I am so frustrated and angry. I hate the advice “Just rest and RELAX” How does one do that when one has been type A go/go person who loves extreme sports and exercising. I cut the impact sports and I am doing walking on TM incline 15 for cardio/elliptical. With weight lifting and abs. I had my eggs taken out yesterday (one egg) and so only one ovary was a little sore. I was able to do a light work out the day after. The Lupron/decapeptyl really makes your muscles get stronger and more toned? It’s so hard to let go of the body- letting it gain the weight it needs (gained 10 lbs) and having the fat and having mushy arms and legs instead of tonned. But more importantly I worked out hard for my sanity and for the endorphins. How do ladies deal with your emotions and feelings and stress?

  16. C said

    I found your blog from the Creme de la Creme list. Good post! Only thing I’d add is that a low-carb diet doesn’t have to signal famine. In fact, it shouldn’t. Your body is getting all it needs when your diet consists of meat, nuts, veggies, fruits, and full-fat dairy.

    Sincerely,
    A Paleo-eating, Crossfitting habitual aborter who admittedly isn’t trying IVF for a couple more months.

    • H said

      C – I’m a Crossfitter too and am devastated at the fact that I was told today I’ll have to stop lifting anything heavier than 10 – 15lbs once I start IVF. Wanted to know if you’ve started your treatments and how it’s going?

    • have you tried low carbing during ur cycle? if yes, did anything bad happen? thanx

  17. Helen said

    This is great! Thank you…

    I’m at this time waiting for next week when I have my blood test results. And I love my weights! And I totally agree it is really hard to rest and relax when you train practically every day. It annoys the buggery out of me!

    I will admit I tried my hardest to stop training but I probably trained twice during my stim cycle (doing “light” weights), my program was 30mins on the x-trainer and then high reps, light weights – full body. Normally I’m on a 3 day split.

    Q. What is “light weights” to you?
    I am a heavy lifter. What is light weights to you, as I don’t think a 2kg dumbbell is going to do much for me.

    After my egg collection, (The retrieved 6 eggs) I trained once, just doing 30xtrainer plus upper body work. We have 4 very good eggs fertilized and in the blastocyst stage (5th day) they implanted one on Sat 7th Aug. Felt a little cramping the next day, but thats just it, its now been 5 days and I feel normal (besides the swollen boobs that are sore to touch)

    I have been taking Crinone Gel twice a day just over a week now, awaiting the day of my blood test to comfirm….mind you I am getting anxious and now my husband left for a 5month away job and my son’s football season is over, I’m going crazy as I have so much time to think…and I am having doubts if the IVF has worked. I asked my Dr about exercise and again I was told “light” like walking (BORING!) No pounding exercises like running. You’re not suppose to raise your core body temperature

    Yesterday I did a work out, thought I’d go back to my 3 day split, it was my first day yesterday and I did 10mins on bike, 20mins treadmill (had a friend with me so we chatted, took the boring away) then I did some weights. Legs and shoulders….It was kept light and high reps of 20-30. I am starting to have doubts if I should keep it going or not….

    My friend who is having twins (IVF) said no exercise as the blastocysts need time to latch on. Probably explains the “no pounding” exercises.

    Going crazy!
    Think I’m going to call the fertility centre just to talk…

  18. Esti said

    Good luck to all of you. I must admit, not exercising is the best. I had a cancelled cycle due to ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome and I could not even walk properly. Not even thinking of the TM. You are putting your body in overdrive with all the meds, thus the rest in another area is not bad. Or so my OB said. I can only start again end of September as my ovaries has to go down (very swollen). I produced over 30 eggs and that is very bad. Yes, one gain a bit of weight, but most of it is fluied. I gained 3kg in the 8 days I was on meds and lost it in the following two weeks when my OB stopped the treatment. I was devestated.

    I truely hope all works out for all of you, but do take it slow.
    Esti xx

  19. Marg said

    Thank you so much for your blog. I was on Decapeptyl earlier this year for endometriosis (with a cyst on my only remaining ovary) and now am on it again as part of IVF. I have had the same symptoms mentioned in the blog – lack of concentration, short term memory issues, headaches, hot flashes, tiredness, dryness. I haven’t started stims yet, but went for a good run the other day and felt great. Basic Yoga also makes me feel fantastic for hours.

    Does anyone have any thoughts on swimming? I recall that the docs told me not to take baths.

    Thanks

  20. Amanda said

    Hi Everyone -
    I hope people still are reading here.

    I just started lupron 3 days ago. I waiting 4 years to do IVF b/c i did not want to stop exercising – but as my 34th bday just rolled around yesterday – i decided it’s time.

    So far, i feel nothing. The shots of course are easy so far b/c i hear the progesterone one is the bad one. I am right now on lupron, follistim and menopur.

    I go in tomorrow for my first blood work. I have been exercising, and i think i plan to continue – at least until i do not feel good.

    I have been drinking caffeine – as much as i usually do – so that i realize right now, i probably should stop.

    Has anyone NOT gained weight from IVF? I dont weigh myself but i just wear the same work pants pretty much – and know if they are getting snug or not. I know it’s only been three days but i havent felt anything so far.

    I also am worried about that lupron fact above – the carb thing – and NO working out. I feel as if i should not eat carbs in this case.

    if ANYONE has any advice – im all ears! Thanks.

  21. kim said

    Hello ladies..

    I have mixed feelings about these posts! I have always been a runner, weight-lifter, workout tapes, abs, etc. and I feel like maybe it’s not a good idea to be exercising during this process after reading. I am on my 8th day of Lupron and am waiting to start the other shots. I feel very bloated and like I am gaining wait already..but on the other hand, I feel that relaxing and doing everything you can to make this happen and have a baby is worth all of the weight gain, shots, and everything else in this IVF process! We all know this is an emotional process and want only one thing out of this..I did stop drinking any alcohol, stopped smoking, and I think now I am going to stop exercise all together..maybe a nice long walk 4 times a week..Thanks for your posts and hope I hear more during this!

  22. Ivette Cros said

    The search is over!!!

    This blog is amazing and all your stories are incredible. I too, love to excercise(running, weights and bootcamp). I am also a little neurotic about weight gain, as I weigh myself every morning. It comforts me that most of you have currently seen some weight gain being on the pill. I thought I was going crazy, and had to run an extra mile!!! I will be starting Lupron tomorrow and then in 2 wks, the remainder of the shots. I did ask if I could continue running….even now, starting Lupron, and I received a resounding “NO.” I was told that I could bike, walk, or go on the stairmaster. I did ask if I could use the elliptical, and I was also told that I couldn’t. I didn’t ask about the weights :( , but I guess “light” weight is alright.

    After 2 miscarriages, 3 IUI’s and this being my first time doing IVF, I do acknowledge that it is the end result that matters the most. In other words, if sacrificing ourselves a little, whether it being cutting down on the cardio ( i know, what a pain!!!) the little bundle of joy/s will b soooo worth it!!! We can then later worry about the weight loss and striving to be that “hot” mom who looks fit :)

    Keep this blog going!!!!!, and thanks for the all your informative advice!!! You girls rock :)

  23. Batgirl said

    Thanks SO MUCH for writing this. So much of what’s written and said about exercise and IVF is assuming cardio. I was very influenced by the weight-lifting book that you linked to (New Rules of Lifting for Women), and it has been great for me. I’m freezing eggs, so they’re aiming to get like 30 eggs from me and go to the edge of hyperstimulation. Today is shot #6: Follistim-Menopur for first 4 days, and yesterday was Follistim-Menopur-Ganirelix, and today no more Follistim for me, just Menopur and Ganirelix. My first attempt was a bust because we did so many things wrong, but this time has been good so far.

    The reason I’m searching for info on exercise is that I feel DEAD TIRED, and I can’t decide whether exercise will help or hurt. Last night I slept 10 hours, and this morning I’m tempted to go back to sleep for longer. At some point, I know that sleep is counter-productive, and that I’ll feel much more alive and alert if I exercise. But if I need the rest, I need the rest. So I feel conflicted about what to do. And not a small part of it: I also feel lazy. :-)

    Normally I do heavy lifting — like 100 lbs for squats and deadlifts, and I can do several pull-ups with 85 pounds of my body weight (40 pounds assist). I’m not planning on doing that until my ovaries go back to normal, or even close to that, but I would swim. Which the IVF nurses said was fine.

    I am thinking of going with the motto “the only workout you regret is the one you don’t do”, and just going in and swimming since it’s a permissible activity. But then there’s that laziness. :-)

  24. Heather said

    Thanks for the good reading. Regarding exercise….my own opinion. Had great numbers with retrieval-started out with 26 to 20- ICSI’d and mature embies 14. One fresh cycle and one frozen cycle with the DRUGS and SLUGGING (no exercise) and BFN’s. Will never electively take any form of estrogen again!!! Menopause or NOT

    #3 Cycle-Did drug free (with exception of progesterone) and careful monitoring of labs- fortunately levels were great! And worked out (Martial Arts)-no sparring but lots of jarring and BFP. First time preg EVER. Biochemical at 6 weeks but felt by far better than ever before. Probably lowest level of stress.
    System primed and ready for last FET- 7-7& 6 along with a promising follicle active.. and sex before transfer. Wish me success. Will be reading for YOUR updates

  25. Jane said

    I’m sorry I’m so late to the party but just wanted to add my thanks for this – am just about to have embryo transfer on my fourth IVF cycle in a year and only wish I had found this before I had started treatment.

  26. Erin said

    I’m in my first cycle of IVF. I have been on lupron for 8 days. I do feel bloated, but my RE said only light exercising which includes walking and swimming.

  27. Danni said

    After 1 stim cycle and 1 thaw cycle I gained 5kgs. Being a PT, Zumba and group fitness instructor this made me very self conscious! I didn’t exercise the first time but nearly went mad…the second time I did. Both rounds were unsuccessful so who knows… I can say though that I felt less stressed and much happier when I was exercising. This next round starting next week is triple the amount of hormones plus lots more…the Doc’s throwing everything at me so I’m apprehensive about gaining weight so I’m definitely going tho exercise and watch what I eat. As long as I keep my HR below 140 the Doc’s happy and I will be too. Good luck everyone!

  28. Ali said

    This is so helpful. This is my 2nd IVF cycle with DE. I gained 9 lbs the first time, lost 6 of them before beginning again, and now into my 3rd week of lupron and third day of estrogen. This morning I was 15 minutes late for church because pants that had some give last LAST WEEKEND did not fit today and I couldn’t find anything to wear! Sure enough, I have gained 6 lbs again in less than a week, and just all around uncomfortable between bloating and constipation.
    I have been running 8 miles 3-4 days/week — nurse has not advised against it. This blog makes me think I ought to stick to the bike or something.
    Thanks for all the posts, everyone. It really helps.

  29. writer5280 said

    I stumbled upon this blog and find myself sucked in, reading every word and response. Just started Lupron again for my third cycle (one failed fresh, one failed frozen). While I know the end result is worth the weight – and wait – I still am so frustrated by the weight gain, I find myself getting very depressed. Like many of you, I was very fit and exercised religiously until all this craziness began. I am now 12 pounds heavier and I barely recognize myself in the mirror. Nothing fits, I don’t feel pretty much less sexy. And while it all may seem vain or inconsequential for the cause, it really takes its toll — especially for someone who has taken so much time and care to be fit. Can anyone please, please tell me that at the end of this all…either after baby, or after I exhaust my options…that I this weight will come off? That my body will go back to some semblance of normal?

  30. Gina said

    Please DO NOT lift heavy weights while doing ivf. You’re increasing toy out muscle, genes your testosterone which counters the ivf. Also of you become pregnant and don’t know the straining can negatively impact the pregnancy. Did you tell your doc that you are heavy lifting? If you did imvsure he told you No good..

  31. Tracy said

    I’m sorry I just don’t get it . If someone wants a baby and undergoes all the emotional , financial and time investment of going through ivf why would sitting on your arse for a month or even nine months be a big deal. We do not know how strong the correlation is between exercise and fertilit but we do know it exist. when I fidst started lifting 10yrs ago my period took longer to come almost immediately so I even as a lay person know that exercise can affect natural and ivf cycles. I have not read anything or heard anything about exercising being good for ivf so seems like a no brainer to me. I guess it comes down to what you want more – to exercise or yourbest chance of conceiving. Its not forever , your Nike’s will be there waiting for you.

  32. Jen said

    I am currently in my first ivf and have overstimmulated (growing 45 eggs) . I am having ER next week hopefully. I called my clinic as I was having some pain to my ovaries and they said absolutely no strenuous exercise. I too am addicted to exercise and do a very intense bootcamp workout to keep my sanity when dealing with infertility. They advised Light walking only due to the very serious risk of ovarian torsion. I asked about yoga and they said the twisting movements are not good. The RN told me to think of my ovaries as water balloons and when they get enlarged easier to twist. I am going crazy but we all need to remember that this will not be the first sacrifice we make for these little ones and certainly not the last. In the grand scope of things are we going to look back and remember those 3 weeks we couldn’t exercise with regret when we do get BFP? Probably not …. So let’s just enjoy our walks even if we want to throw in some burpees !

  33. annie said

    Hi Ladies,

    I have forever been looking for information about exercising and IUI or IVF. Thank you all for posting!! I am an avid runner (6-8 miles a day) so cutting down to “light walking” freaks the sh_t out of me!! Not only does exercise keep me trim, it more importantly, keeps me sane in general-without any added hormone injecting!! I have already done 3 iui’s for which I continued to walk/jog 3-4 miles a day (except for turkey baster week, I did nothing that week). My body loved the Gonal F I was taking and I had 5-6 front runner follicles each time, yet I was unsuccessful in the end.
    I am currently on Day 1 of the pill for my first IVF cycle. So, I would love to believe that “if you did it before, your body is use to it and you should be able to keep doing it” but there’s this little voice inside of me that keeps telling me I need to slow down if I want my body to do this. So, it is with a heavy heart that I have decided that running will not serve my purpose. If I want my best chance of getting pregnant, then all of my extra energy should not be spent running or lifting weights, it should be used for baby making. I am very concerned about staying sane, so I have decided that when I start to feel the “heebie jeebie’s” I will put my running shoes on and go for a walk outside. or I might put on some “Metric” and dance around my front room (no jumping of course). I totally sympathise with all of you exercisers, like all of you I really don’t want to stop and I keep looking for ways not to. However, in the end I need to think about what the priority is- Do I want to stay trim or get pregnant? We can always exercise afterwards. This is just what I’ve decided for myself, you all will have to listen for that little voice inside you (for me, it’s this annoying, nagging feeling that tells me I shouldn’t be running). I wish you all the best of luck!!

  34. oh gosh, i’m sooooooooo happy i found ur blog, i’ve been through 5 hideous IVF trials, gained A TON OF WEIGHT (went from 70 kgs to 105 kgs, then got prediabetic). i decided 2 stop trying for at least a year, got weightloss surgery, gone back to 59 kgs & i still have 5 kgs to go before going thru IVF AGAIN ………….i’m TERRIFIED of the weight gain, so i decided 2 double my exercise time as long as i’m not stimming, go on a low carb diet during the cycle & hope for the goddamn best ………..i hate IVFs , this time i’m doing it purely 4 my husband’s sake who has the lowest quality/deformed sperms EVER!!! i want this nightmare 2 end i really do…………i worked so very hard eating right & exercising like a nut job after my surgery to go from a size 24 to a size 10 ………..i will not go back 2 that awful size EVER again, kid or not!!!
    Sorry 4 venting, but this blog really struck a chord with me………

  35. Newbie41 said

    I am 41 yrs old and am debating on whether to start my first ivf cycle next week or wait another month. I am concerned about a family photo to be taken in 45 days. I know it is not a big deal in the scheme of things but it is a special family photo and i would like to look “normal” not bloated. If i start next week, my retrieval should be finished probably within 5 days of photo. Can anyone tell me whether the weight gain will. Be gone by then??again i realize this is a bit absurd but again it is a very special family photo, a once in a lifetime opportunity with my family. I will be on lupron as part of protocol. W are doing a fresh ivf followed by frozen transfer. Thanks!!

    • writer5280 said

      If it means a lot to you, I would wait. There is no way to know how your body will react to the meds, and it sounds like you are pretty sensitive to it. I am 40 years old and 30 weeks pregnant with twins after three rounds of IVF (fresh, frozen, fresh). In round 1, I gained about 5 pounds in the three-ish weeks between when I started lupron and transfer. Another 5 pounds before I finally got pregnant in round 3. Sure, in the grand scheme of things, none of this weight gain should matter. And there is no way for me to know which of the many drugs I was on assisted in the gain. But if you truly are very concerned about the photo, whether you start your IVF journey one month or the next probably doesn’t matter. Just wait. Good luck!

      • AmyG said

        I would wait as well – I lost some of the water weight, but still appear bloated in the stomach area. My Dr. said this doesn’t go away until LONG after the transfer (up to 3 weeks). It’s difficult, I know.

  36. Hi I just have my 2nd IVF and again it was faild that’s sucks and I’m crying with pain.:( my 1st IVF was a success but M/C in 3months those are the most painful in my life.

    I just had my retrieval last June 24th for a 5day transfer, took the home PT yesterday and it’s BFN, Monday will be my blood test! Do you think I can go back to exercise right way? I felt good and my condition was fine, I’m just curios if I will be able to exercise back to gym next week once my blood test goes BFN.

    I’m willing to undergo IVF again not losing hope yet!

    Thans,
    Yen2x

  37. AmyG said

    Best Blog ever! I’m OCD about exercise. I workout 6 days a week (run stairs at the subway station, bootcamps, personal trainer, and boxing classes). I even do air squats and banded leg lifts when I’m sitting on my conference calls. Weight gain scares the bejeezus out of me – ask my poor husband who has to hear about it every day.

    I asked my Dr. religiously everyday about exercise to see if his answer would change – he said ABSOLUTELY no exercise, except light walking. UGGHHH! I’ve heard no swimming because you wouldn’t be taking baths. And no yoga whatsoever.

    This is my first IVF cycle and at the same time I started this cycle, I had packed on 10 pounds in my stomach/back area due to Adrenal Gland syndrome – overtraining.

    So I started with weight gain going into my cycle. Due to the AGS, I was told to back off exercise and anything intense all together until my AGS calms down and lose the weight. So I had to make an adjustment prior to IVF.

    During my cycle, I have gone walking everyday and have gotten my HR up to 135 by doing intervals (1 minute brisk, 1 minute easy) for 35-45 min. I also carry 2lb weights and do different arm/biceps/tricep positions while walking – my arms got even more carved doing this!

    After my retrieval I had 38 eggs and have been in so much discomfort and pain – I gained 6lbs overnight after retrieval. I lost 5lbs 2 days after, and since then I have retained the water weight, the uncomfortable stomach area, and bloated belly – I already look pregnant!!! My Dr. said this will not go away prior to transfer, if at all unless I test negative.

    I start every morning off doing 30 “fake-kettle-bell” swings. In other words, do the motion without the kettle bells. Throughout my work day, and I do air squats, stair-pushups, and 2 pound arm exercises, but no more than 30 reps, just to keep my tone.

    I do my transfer tomorrow, and then no exercise until the prego test, per my Dr. That will be a struggle – but I’ll make sure to eat clean, lower fat, lower carb, higher protein. I would hope that spreading my toning out throughout the day wouldn’t be an issue, and give me the occasional HR boost, plus send blood out to my muscles, which helps burn fat as well.

  38. Gigi said

    I never weighed more than 117lb! with the first Ivf I gained about 20lbs! I I just started my second ivf cyle and it worries how much more will I gain and how will I loose the weight! But, I guess If we get the baby its ok the weight. Good luck all of you.

  39. WannaRun said

    Glad i’m not the only one. I am perplexed by how many of the women in our clinic are infertile because they are overweight, yet I am fit and the doc tells me to sit on my ass for the duration of the process. I thought health body = healthy baby? I watch while my friends all continue to exercise through their pregnancies and are encouraged to for the health of themselves and the baby, but those of us going through IVF are supposed to sit on our butts and eat high sodium food? Seems counter intuitive to me.

  40. Wanting-children said

    Hi there, I really enjoy my exercise and am going through my first IVF. There have been studies done but from what I’ve read they’re a little conflicting. It”s a site with scientific studies done primarily from Britain’s NHS and is around miscarriage however the studies also indicate how exercise can effect your fertility & pregnancy. It’s also a site that provides information about a plethora of supplements, diet and hormonal topics in regards to fertility and pregnancy.

    https://sites.google.com/site/miscarriageresearch/exercise-and-miscarriage

    I will step down the intensity of my workouts to the point where I can talk while doing my elliptical and be very limited with strength training. I’m day 3 of stims on flare protocol for my diminished reserve/low responder situation.
    I hope this website helps others make decisions about exercise during IVF and pregnancy.

  41. Wanting-children said

    Well I’ve completed my IVF cycle (have diminished reserve at 37) with 2 gym workouts in the 9 days of swimming and a few nice walks and my eggs didn’t grow. I don’t blame the exercise at all, this is just apart of my condition. It was a long flare protocol, we’ll try short antagonist protocol in August.
    I’m glad you guys liked that website, it’s been a great research place for me to go when I have questions about diet, supplements and infertility conditions.

  42. […] http://hardknockedup.wordpress.com/2009/03/24/exercise-weight-and-ivf/ […]

  43. I felt guilty when I experienced a miscarriage as I felt that I could have done something to prevent losing my baby. However, I later managed to move on as I discovered that mostly miscarriages happen due to fetal abnormalities or else internal problems which can not be prevented. I also found out that miscarriages are normal occurrences in women only that most of them experience them even before knowing they were pregnant. The implantation process is not always perfect and at times it takes the woman body a number of tries to get it accurate.

  44. Anonymous said

    thanks for this post! I’m very happy to learn about the potential strength building side effect of Lupron! (seems like the only good side effect :-) my plan: build some extra muscle that will burn more calories when I do get pregnant so that I don’t have to work so hard then :-) thanks!!

  45. Ashley said

    It helps to hear so many people going through the same thing. This is my second IVF cycle with FET. I’m an avid runner, bootcamper and this round of BCPs, Lupron and just started estradiol has made me a crazy woman…weight gain even while watching calories and exercising 5-6 times a week!! I’m hopeful this round will be successful and wish you all the best of luck!

    Thanks for the info!

    Xoxo-Ashley

    • I’m glad I’m not the only one looking at this blog 5 years later… and no I’m not a robot! I have had the same experience of not being able to lose the weight gained during my egg retrieval in Feb 2014. I got pregnant but had a m/c at 7 weeks :(. I have since gone through one FET with a negative result and now starting another one. In April/May, I started counting calories 5 days/week and continued with weight training 3 days/week in between cycles (I did not do strenuous exercise during the stimulation and right before FET). Frustratingly, I have not lost any the 10-15 lbs I gained in Feb. I think there is something to the meds and the hormonal changes that happen when you do the stims and then go on birth control between times. The other thing is you don’t want to crash diet and overexercise between cycles, because that will just impair your fertility more. It sucks for us body-conscious active people, but hopefully it’ll be worth it in the end.

  46. Thanks for the info, I am 5 days before egg retrieval and I did heavy weights at lunch… bad idea, I should have googled it before.. I have mild discomfort now. I won’t exercise for the next 10 days, just mild walks.

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