The importance of exercise prior to IVF

In a nutshell

This study looked at the effect of physical activity on pregnancy during IVF.

Some background

In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF) involves fertilization of the female egg with the male sperm in a lab dish, and then implanting the fertilized egg into the womb lining three to five days after fertilization. Physical activity seems to be beneficial during pregnancy. However, it is unclear whether physical activity immediately after embryo transfer is also beneficial. 

Methods & findings
121 women having IVF treatment took part in this study. The women filled out a questionnaire about their physical activity over the past year. Physical activity was divided into low intensity such as household chores, and high intensity including exercise. Patients were also given a device to track their activity levels for a short period of time after embryo transfer. 
The authors found that active lifestyles, such as walking, bicycling, less television watching, and exercise were beneficial in the year leading up to IVF treatment. Specifically the odds of becoming pregnant were 48% higher in women who exercised regularly, and 52% higher in women who generally had higher levels of activity. However, exercise had no effect on live births following IVF. Of note, there was no effect of moderate intensity exercise immediately after embryo transfer on pregnancy outcomes. 
Methods & findings
The bottom line

The authors conclude that moderate exercise immediately after embryo transfer has no effect on pregnancy. However, being physically active in the year before IVF leads to a greater chance of implantation and pregnancy. 

The fine print

Most of the women in the study did not do much high intensity exercise after embryo transfer. This prevented the authors from properly measuring whether higher-intensity exercise has an effect on pregnancy.

What’s next?

If you are concerned about exercising during IVF, please discuss any questions with your doctor. 

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Published By: Fertility and Sterility
Date: Nov 11, 2020
Original Title: Association of physical activity in the past year and immediately after in vitro fertilization on pregnancy.

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