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Olympic workouts: how exercise impacts fertility

March 17, 2018
Katie Visco

Every few years, the reemergence of the world's greatest athletes for the Olympic games sparks conversation, including exercise routines and more. 

While not all of us are up to par with Olympians, many of us still strive to be competitive athletes or at least frequent gym-goers. In an article posted by the Romper, writer Lindsay E. Mack details research from the Southern California Reproductive Center to decide whether or not extreme athletics can help or harm fertility chances. The article details three major components of dealing with the Olympics:

  • Understanding the details of extensive training hours along with external factors.
  • Potential issues caused by extreme exercise, including issues with ovulation.
  • Realizing the common misconceptions when dealing with women and exercise.


Training long hours & external factors

When looking at the Olympic games, different levels and different types of training apply to each sport. Regardless of sport, however, consulting a doctor for health advice when starting these routines is crucial. 

In addition, while long training hours can affect your fertility, it is important not to assume it is the sole cause of issues. 

Additional factors more often than not can affect fertility, regardless of athletics.

Ovulation & issues that arise

While some aspects of intense exercise effects may remain uncertain, there are certain connections we can pinpoint. 

According to the Mayo Clinic, heavy exercise impacts ovulation, as timing is often key for successful conception (many women often track their cycles on apps in order to ensure accurate results). 

Another common ovulation-related issue is amenorrhea, which is described as infrequent periods usually as a result of exercise. 

This issue is described by OB-GYN Stephen K. Montoya, MD: "If you're not having periods, it indicates that you're probably not ovulating and for sure you're not making enough hormones to sustain a fetus." Further studies have looked into if these delays are long term, and research shows the effects are only temporary.

Misconceptions surrounding women & exercise

Unfortunately, misconceptions have often outnumbered actually effects such as amenorrhea, furthering worry for conceiving a child while being an athlete. 

Heavy exercise can also negatively impact sperm count, causing issues for both males and females. 

The article also noted that several female Olympians have conceived, and even competed, during training season, proving there is still high chances of having a child while partaking in high levels of exercise. As you digest the past few weeks' Olympic sports, be sure to keep these thoughts in mind!


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