Penn Fertility Care

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Reproductive Health Information

Eating, Exercise and Infertility

Being overweight is a common problem among all men and women, not just those hoping to conceive. Eating a healthy diet and obtaining regular exercise can be a big part of helping women achieve their goals, whether they include physical fitness, weight loss, or hormonal/fertility improvement.

Although persons who modify their diet and begin regular exercise programs generally lose weight, even in the absence of any weight loss, a regular exercise program will significantly improve a woman's hormones and cardiovascular health. There are beneficial changes to a woman's heart as well as her blood sugar and insulin levels, and also to her reproductive hormones. Many women who are not ovulating may begin ovulating.

While it may be true that some people with a weight a problem "don't eat much at all", the fact is that they still have excessive food intake compared to what their bodies require. Remember that everyone's metabolism and calorie usage differs. Unfortunately, many individuals are overweight because they burn and require very few calories compared to an average person.

In the end, it is a very simple formula that no one can deviate from. Consuming more calories than are burned causes weight gain. Burning more calories than are consumed cause weight loss. Achieving an "ideal" body weight is not necessary! Research has shown that significant hormonal improvements occur with as little as 8–10 percent body weight loss.

There are a few general points to be made regarding diet and eating habits:

  • Don't skip breakfast. Skipping breakfast prolongs the body's "fasting mode" and decreases calorie usage.
  • Drink water instead of other options. Diet drinks are also okay, but some researchers think these may stimulate appetite.
  • Keeping a water bottle on-hand and trying to drink water frequently throughout the day, especially when hungry. Distention of the stomach, although brief, can help decrease the appetite.
  • Don't eat after supper. There is no way to utilize these calories before going to bed.

The best option for "dieting", and the one that needs to be made a regular part of one's life at some point, is simply what can be termed "sensible eating".