Can physical exercise be performed during ovarian stimulation?

By (gynecologist) and (embryologist).
Last Update: 04/19/2022

During an assisted reproduction treatment, many doubts often arise. One of them, especially if the woman leads an active lifestyle, is whether it is possible to continue exercising during ovarian stimulation.

The truth is that moderate sports and leading an active and healthy life have multiple benefits, also for reproduction. However, the period of ovarian stimulation is the time to slow down a little, since intense physical exercise is not recommended.

what happens during ovarian stimulation?

The process of controlled ovarian stimulation (COS) consists of the administration of certain hormonal drugs, with the objective of developing several follicles and maturing several eggs at the same time.

In this way, it is intended to increase the chances of success of assisted reproduction treatment, since if ovarian stimulation were not performed (in a natural menstrual cycle) only a single egg would mature.

However, this multiple follicular development is associated with an increase in the volume and size of the ovaries. This circumstance, together with other possible symptoms produced by hormonal medication, may cause some discomfort and abdominal discomfort to the woman.

Sport and ovarian stimulation

Due to the discomfort and the increase in ovarian size as the days of ovarian stimulation progress, the patient should limit the intensity of exercise.

The reason is that the risk of ovarian torsion is increased. This complication arises when the ovary rotates on itself, which hinders ovarian blood circulation. If this occurs, surgery must be performed to resolve the situation.

However, this does not mean completely abandoning an active life, but adapting exercise to this stage. Mild sports that do not involve a lot of intensity and impact can generally be performed during ovarian stimulation.

Therefore, women can go for walks, do pilates, yoga and even swim. Nevertheless, the ideal is always to consult a specialist beforehand, in case there is any contraindication. The gynecologist's recommendations are especially important in the last days of ovarian stimulation, when the size of the ovaries is larger and, therefore, there is also a greater risk of torsion with physical activity.

However, in any case, very intense exercise involving great effort and/or impact should be avoided. Thus, it is recommended that women do not engage in contact sports or exercises that require, for example, jumping or lifting weights.

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Benefits of sport in ovarian stimulation

Moderate sport is beneficial before starting any assisted reproduction treatment. Leading an active and healthy lifestyle is also good for fertility and helps to maintain a healthy weight.

During ovarian stimulation, gentle sport (apart from all its known benefits) will help the woman to reduce stress and have less anxiety. It should not be forgotten that an assisted reproduction treatment can be very hard psychologically for patients. Therefore, exercise can make it easier for a woman to disconnect from everything related to treatment. In addition, practicing sports will help women rest better.

In short, gentle exercise will make a woman feel better, physically and psychologically.

FAQs from users

Can I go to the gym and lift weights during assisted reproduction treatment?

By Marta Zermiani M.D., Ph.D. (gynecologist).

In general, during an assisted reproduction treatment, you can lead a normal life unless otherwise indicated by the gynecologist. Weight training is usually discouraged during the final phase of ovarian stimulation and after an embryo transfer.

In the case of ovarian stimulation, when the ovaries begin to increase in size the patient usually feels more swollen and may have abdominal discomfort or pain. If she has this discomfort, it is better not to do intense physical exercise. In any case, regardless of the clinical manifestations that you may notice, if the ovaries have increased in size, it is advisable to avoid physical exercise (such as weight lifting) because of the risk of ovarian torsion (the ovary can rotate on its own axis and the blood supply is blocked). This is a serious complication that has to be treated in the operating room to recover the ovarian vascularization.

After an embryo transfer, it is also recommended to avoid exertion, especially during the following 3 days, to avoid any type of uterine contraction that could decrease the chances of the embryo implanting.

Is it possible to exercise after ovarian stimulation?

By Silvia Azaña Gutiérrez B.Sc., M.Sc. (embryologist).

After ovarian stimulation, if the woman is undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment, the next step is follicular puncture. The puncture is a simple procedure, but it is recommended that a certain amount of rest be taken to avoid certain complications.

Subsequently, after the embryo transfer, the recommendation is to lead a normal life, but without making great physical efforts or intense sports. For this reason, the intensity of the exercise should be adapted and it should be of low intensity.

In addition, care should be taken with water sports such as swimming, since immersion baths should be avoided for at least one week after the transfer.

Finally, if pregnancy has been achieved, it will be possible to do exercise adapted to this special new stage that the woman is going through.

However, it is always advisable to consult with the specialist as to whether exercise can be performed at the specific stage of the woman's pregnancy.

Can I exercise at home during controlled ovarian stimulation?

By Silvia Azaña Gutiérrez B.Sc., M.Sc. (embryologist).

During controlled ovarian stimulation, the woman can exercise (either at home or elsewhere) as long as it is of low intensity and avoids exertion and impact. It should be taken into account that, especially in the last days of ovarian stimulation, the ovaries are enlarged and there is a greater risk of ovarian torsion with sport.

Thus, the woman can, for example, choose to go for a walk.

Suggested for you

If you want to learn more about the whole process of ovarian stimulation, you can visit the following link: What is ovarian stimulation - Process, medications and symptoms.

On the other hand, if you want to continue reading more in depth about the hormonal medications used in ovarian stimulation, we recommend you to read this article: What medications are used for ovarian stimulation in AI and IVF?

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Hilbert SM, Gunderson S. Complications of Assisted Reproductive Technology. Emerg Med Clin North Am. 2019 May;37(2):239-249. (Ver)

Sõritsa D, Mäestu E, Nuut M, Mäestu J, Migueles JH, Läänelaid S, Ehrenberg A, Sekavin A, Sõritsa A, Salumets A, Ortega FB, Altmäe S. Maternal physical activity and sedentary behaviour before and during in vitro fertilization treatment: a longitudinal study exploring the associations with controlled ovarian stimulation and pregnancy outcomes. J Assist Reprod Genet. 2020 Aug;37(8):1869-1881. (Ver)

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FAQs from users: 'Can I go to the gym and lift weights during assisted reproduction treatment?', 'Is it possible to exercise after ovarian stimulation?' and 'Can I exercise at home during controlled ovarian stimulation?'.

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Authors and contributors

 Marta Zermiani
Marta Zermiani
M.D., Ph.D.
Graduated in Medicine and Surgery from the Università degli Studi di Padova in Italy, specializing in Gynecology and Obstetrics at the Hospital Universitario de Bellvitge in Barcelona. Specialist in Assisted Reproduction with 4 years experience and currently a gynecologist at Vida Fertility Madrid. More information about Marta Zermiani
Licence number: 280847526
 Silvia Azaña Gutiérrez
Silvia Azaña Gutiérrez
B.Sc., M.Sc.
Graduate in Health Biology from the University of Alcalá and specialized in Clinical Genetics from the same university. Master in Assisted Reproduction by the University of Valencia in collaboration with IVI clinics. More information about Silvia Azaña Gutiérrez
License: 3435-CV

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