Running and IVF
I’m just over two weeks out from having egg retrieval as part of IVF treatment (read this post and this one sharing our IVF experience and Fertility FAQs). One thing I’d read a bit about and had been warned of was that I’d be told not to run. Whilst I’m totally OK with not running, especially now with my goal race so far away, I use running/exercise as stress relief. And I was worried I’d go a little stressy without it. Also when you’re literally only allowed to leave the house to exercise… cutting out exercise was not an option.
After chatting with my friend Ash who recently underwent her own IVF treatment and discussing it with the nurse at our fertility clinic, I felt more confident in continuing to exercise, but keeping the intensity low.
Most google searches will bring you to the conclusion that running is a serious no-no during treatment. But really, the key issue is the risk of ovarian torsion (twisting).
Why do some clinics recommend no exercise during IVF?
The main reason is the aforementioned risk of ovarian torsion while going through IVF. Women undergoing fertility treatment are at increased risk of ovarian torsion as their ovaries are enlarged with developing follicles. I also read on some fertility sites that high intensity workouts should be avoided. Because high-impact activities redirect blood circulation to the muscles instead of to the uterus, ovaries, and eggs.
The general advice is;
- No twisting movements
- No high intensity workouts
- No yoga inversions
- No exercises with quick changes in body position
After speaking with the nurse at our clinic (we used The Evewell) we discussed the importance of keeping stress low during treatment. And as running/exercise is a massive stress relief for me and part of my regular routine, they were happy for me to continue to run easy. Making sure that it was all at conversational pace.
Ultimately, I’d recommend speaking to your fertility clinic and getting advice from your doctor or nurse if you’re wondering about exercising during IVF treatment. And try not to go down the Google rabbit hole…
I chatted with Evgenia Koroleva (she’s also the guest on the Cook Eat Run podcast last week – listen here) prior to starting treatment. And she reiterated the advice that Dr Meggie Smith gave me… that you’ll know when it’s time to stop running.
Running During Treatment
I ran easy for almost throughout my treatment. I continued with 2-3 mile easy runs, with some run/walking. Given that I’m definitely still easing my way back into run training,I didn’t have to make any changes to my training plan for the first week. However, if I had been training at a higher intensity, running speed workouts or longer distances, I probably would have eased back on things. It was only about 4 days before egg retrieval that I started to feel uncomfortably bloated. And like I was huffing and puffing even on dog walks.
We took Chester (our 6 month old labradoodle) out for 30-45 minute walks everyday throughout treatment. And I could feel myself slowing down, especially on any uphill stretches. But I always felt better for getting outside and some movement in!
I did two strength workouts the first week of treatment, avoiding weights and anything core related. But I was too nervous to do any strength workouts during the second week. If I’d been able to do 1:1 in person PT then I probably would have done. But with Zoom PT I was worried about doing a move wrong. Let’s be honest, I also felt much more tired than usual. And when it came to strength workouts, they are always the first to go from my training plan when I’m lacking energy!
Running After Egg Retrieval
My egg retrieval was on Monday morning, and I didn’t run again until the Friday. Whilst I didn’t have many post-op side effects, I was a little crampy the following day and mostly just exhausted. Mostly though, I was being very cautious due to the risk of ovarian torsion (when your ovary becomes twisted).
I’d originally signed up to our local outdoor heated swimming pool in the hopes that I could swim pre and post IVF treatment. But sadly, lockdown put a stop to that.
Now at nearly two weeks out from treatment, and I’m feeling completely back to normal. In fact on our dog walk the other day, Tom told me to slow down. A sign I was back to base fitness! Whilst I’m still a long way from peak marathon fitness, I’m excited to increase the training and keep progressing with my running.
This week we’ve kept the mileage low and runs easy. But next week I’m starting to run commute from the train station to the hospital. And I’m so happy to spend less time in the car. When I was a student dietitian on hospital placement, I run commuted all the time and tested out the best backpacks to run with – check out my post and favourite running backpack here.
Photos by Phil Hill