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How to Keep Stress From Harming Your Fertility

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Updated January 28, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

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You Should Work-Out -- But Not Too Much
Couple exercising

Keeping fit is important, but overdoing it can impact your fertility.

Chase Jarvis / Getty Images

Getting a healthy amount of exercise can help lower stress and lead to a healthier body. Exercise can also help with weight loss, and if you need to lose weight, that's just one more reason to tie on those walking shoes.

Ideally, we should all be exercising for at least 45 minutes, a few times a week.

However, it's all about balance.

A surprising study looked at the effect exercise habits had on IVF outcomes. The study, which included just over 2,000 women, found that women who said they worked out regularly were no more likely to conceive than women who said they never worked out.

But that's not the surprising part. Women who reported that they worked out four or more hours per week, for the past one to nine years, were 40% less likely to have a live birth from IVF.

They were also twice as likely to experience implantation failure or pregnancy loss, and three times more likely to have a treatment cycle canceled.

Also, generally, women who said they participated in cardio work-outs (for example, aerobics, running, or swimming) had a 30% lower chance of a successful live birth after IVF.

I told you it's surprising. If you're trying to lose weight, then you may need four hours or more a week of exercise. But if you just love the gym, based on this study, you may want to cut back a tad, at least on the cardio work-outs. Maybe switch some of your aerobics classes for some yoga.

At the extreme, if you have a problem with compulsive exercise, you risk lowering your fertility, not to mention the risk to the rest of your health. Read more about compulsive exercising in this article from Tracee Cornforth, the Guide to PMS:

Next, let's talk about caffeine and your fertility.

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