A simple exercise regime may prove as effective as standard fertility treatments in improving a woman’s chances of falling pregnant, a University of Queensland study has found.
That finding is the result of a systematic review and meta-analysis to assess the effects of physical activity on selected reproductive health outcomes in young adult women over the past 20 years.
“When physical activity was compared with standard fertility treatments, such as IVF or ovulation induction, there was no difference in pregnancy rates and live births between women exercising and those undertaking fertility treatments,” Dr Gabriela Mena, from UQ’s School of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences, said.
“This suggests that physical activity may be as effective as commonly-used fertility treatments, and could be an affordable and feasible alternative or complementary therapy to these very expensive treatments,” Dr Mena said.
“We also found higher pregnancy and live birth rates for women who were physically active than women not undertaking exercise or undergoing fertility treatments.”
The researchers said it was not possible to determine if any particular form of exercise was superior to others in terms of fertility outcomes, but added that even moderate increases in physical activity seemed to improve a woman’s reproductive health.
It was also not possible to determine if the fertility benefits of exercised accrued independent of any concomitant weight loss.
“Studies with different types of exercise, intensity and duration are required in order to find the optimal ‘dose’ or prescription of physical activity,” Dr Mena said.
Human Reproduction Update; online July