Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Conquering Infertility

Yesterday when I wasn't in bed with a migraine, I started reading this book. Much of the information in it is stuff I already know, but I am finding it an interesting read nonetheless.

One thing that interested me was her appendix on lifestyle changes. Everything else I have read indicates that regular, moderate exercise has no adverse effect on fertility and in fact, is recommended for optimal health. Dr. Domar (who is not a medical doctor) recommends taking a 3-month break from exercise, saying that for some women, infertility can be caused by even moderate exercise. She says you shouldn't do anything that will raise your heart rate over 110 beats per minute for three months.

I'm curious if anyone has tried this, or knows someone who has, and had success. I am by no means an exercise fanatic, but I do average 2-3 days a week of 30-minute cardio sessions. I am careful not raise my heart rate above 15o bpm in the two-week wait but have never held back on cardio at all pre-ovulation.

I'm not truly considering trying this exercise break, as I have not seen it recommended anywhere else. Also, my internal medicine doctor has told me that I need to be exercising 3-4 times a week for my cholesterol (which is high) and losing weight. So I have had specific advice to the contrary. I'm still interested in hearing whether there is any merit to this recommendation, though.

I am also wondering if perhaps I should wait a cycle or two before moving on to injections. I have read in a few places that injectible gonadotropins can be less effective in women with a BMI over 27. My BMI is over 30. While I don't think that I have the time it would take to get my BMI into a normal range--even losing at a rate of a pound a week, it would take months--perhaps losing 10-15 lbs before starting injections would be a good idea. Hmmm.

I am also starting to wonder whether counseling related to TTC might be a good idea for me. I think that I am coping pretty well with all of this stuff most of the time, but I do find myself distracted at work and often feel like a failure (at least in this area of my life). I have noticed that I have been more irritable of late, too (though that could well be related to medication side effects). I have definitely had a crisis of faith related to TTC, too, as has probably been apparent from some of my blog posts.

At 38, there is such a feeling that "time is of the essence" that I'm disinclined to not forge ahead. But if there would be a benefit to me in taking a break--and especially if it would mean greater odds of achieving pregnancy--perhaps I should consider it.


  1. The exercise thing is really interesting. I'm in a high-exercise phase of my life right now, but that's something I love about summer and would hate to give up based on anecdotal evidence. On the other hand, I wasn't very active through the winter this year, and in fact took a complete hiatus for over a month when my knee was injured, and it didn't seem to matter.

    Definitely worth looking into, I suppose.

  2. I read that book and have decided to ignore her exercise advice. I started TTC before starting to exercise regularly ... didn't get pregnant. Started exercising slowly ... didn't get pregnant. Picked up the pace on exercise ... still not pregnant. Whatever my problem is, I don't think exercise has anything to do with it.

    I think exercise is only problematic when it's interfering with your ovulation. As long as you're ovulating regularly, your exercise is probably fine.

    Also, you mentioned exercise for cholesterol control and weight control ... given all the statistics correlating obesity with inferility, it seems to make most sense to me to keep exercising. That's the decision I made, anyway. (That said, in the time I've been TTC my BMI has gone from "morbidly obese" to "normal." Still not pregnant.)

    And I do recommend counseling, especially if you're finding yourself distracted at work and "feeling like a failure" (oh, man, do I know that one). If possible, find a therapist who specializes in fertility issues. I'm seeing one who doesn't, which sometimes makes it hard for her to relate ... she's supportive, but not always as empathetic as I'd like. (But breaking in a new therapist is kind of a pain, so I've stuck with her.)

  3. (As you probably know) I definitely recommend counseling! And if the first one you find doesn't click, that doesn't mean therapy is not for you--just that therapist. Thinking of you. xoxo

  4. It's definitely different if you don't ovulate, like myself. My RE had me quit all exercise for almost 6 months to see if it would bring my period back/allow me to ovulate.That didn't work and so we moved the shots which were the only option for us since I never ovulate on my own. Clomid would never work. Stopping all exercise certainly did not work either. I actually had started back with moderate exercise a couple months ago and it apparently didn't keep the shots from working!

  5. I've tried the no exercise/moderate exercise game and found no result with any of it... I think it is all a crapshoot and living a healthy lifestyle with moderate exercise is the way to go.

    As far as injectables, one of my clinics recommended intramuscular injections for women who weighed 150lbs or more (vs. subcutaneous injections). I'm not sure if this applies, but thought I would throw it out as a little food for thought.

    I would highly recommend counseling. From my experience, search for someone who deals with infertility and ask them before setting up your appointment about their qualifications and knowledge base to help you deal with IF. I was so beyond frustrated with one therapist who was constantly trying to understand the process of IVF. I often felt I had to explain so much to help her understand why I felt the way I did. It is night and day to have someone who just "gets it".



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