Exercise Is Essential for Fertility

Restoring natural fertility or achieving a successful IVF cycle through complementary alternative medicine involves four essential steps. Your journey begins with the diagnosis of the source of the imbalances through a detailed history and physical, lab work, a basal body temperature chart, and Traditional Chinese Medicine evaluation. Next your diet is modified to include the essential micronutrients needed for fertility and exclude inflammatory insulin-resistance fueling foods. Third, acupuncture treatments are recommended to assist in restoring the balance to your body by removing obstacles to fertility, harmonizing the flow of energy and directing blood flow to your reproductive organs.

For one-third of couples suffering from infertility, anovulation is the problem. This means the woman is not ovulating. Anovulation can be caused by insulin resistance, or Syndrome X. Research shows that a woman can resume ovulation by exercising, reducing or gaining weight to the proper body mass index and taking micronutrients1. Ovulatory issues can be caused by being either over or underweight.

According to the same article, the factors thought to be related to a low risk of ovulatory disorders include a lower intake of inflammatory fatty acids, a lower intake of animal protein to further avoid inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids, greater vegetable protein intake, a higher intake of high-fiber through vegetable sources, and low glycemic load carbohydrates. These issues have been discussed at length in my first two blog articles about how to resolve Syndrome X.

Research shows that adipose tissue (fat cells) secrete highly inflammatory chemicals into your body. These chemical irritants are called cytokines. High-fat diets lead to obesity and increase the risk of developing insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. Adipose tissue acts as an endocrine organ, and produces various cytokines that can potentially alter insulin sensitivity. The effect of each of these cytokines on muscle insulin sensitivity can be modulated, or decreased, by diet and exercise2.

The residence of excessive adipose tissue in your body is not a cosmetic issue. Cells called macrophages set up house in adipose tissue in visceral fat around abdominal organs, and participate in dumping inflammatory mediators. Excess adipose tissue is an immune stimulant. This is potentially how autoimmune diseases suddenly manifest. Excess adipose tissue functions as a secondary endocrine organ, propagating syndrome X and all its associated problems3.

This introduces the last essential component in the complementary alternative medicine approach to restoring fertility. You have to exercise. There is absolutely no substitute for it. The key is moderating exercise to restore glucose and insulin sensitivity, lower cortisol levels elevated by high stress and the inflammatory state of your body. If you are exercising too hard, you may need to back off. If you are not exercising at all, you need to start.

Creating balance in all the aspects of your being, through nutrition, acupuncture and herbal medicine, is at the center of restoring overall health and fertility. The stress of dealing with fertility issues as well as the other stresses in your life may need to be addressed professionally, by a therapist. This is also a very important part of bringing balance into your life.


  1. Polotsky, AJ, Houston S. Is there such thing as a fertility diet? Contemp OB Gyn, 2009 Nov; 54(11): 37-8, 40, 42 (22 ref)
  2. Stephanyk LE, Dyck DJ. The interaction between adipokines, diet and exercise on muscle insulin sensitivity. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2010 Mar 6, epub ahead of print.
  3. Trayhurn P et al. Adipose tissue and adipokines-energy regulation from the human perspective. J Nutr. 2006 Jul;136(7 Suppl):1935S-1939S. Review

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