ARE ATHLETES HAVING TROUBLES TO CONCEIVE A BABY?
Infertility is the inability to conceive a baby after 12 months of unprotected sex. Generally, infertility means when a woman cannot carry a pregnancy. According to a study, around 15 in 100 Australian couples face infertility at some point of their reproductive age.
There are many factors related with a woman’s fertility. They are age, problem in fallopian tube, sexually transmitted diseases, pelvic inflammatory disease and any type of fibroids. There are some lifestyle factors which also affect infertility. For instance, weight, smoking, alcohol, caffeine may affect a woman’s fertility.
Shockingly, another lifestyle factor associated with infertility is hard workout.
All girls play sports in their school and college life. Some trains for games at professional level. Girls playing volleyball, basketball need to go through extensive training and hard work. Sometimes girls engage themselves with exercises to get into a better shape. Herein comes the news. There is a high chance of having troubles in getting pregnant, resulting in an infertility problem, if girls are involved in heavy workout or sports.
Studies show it is very common to have a reproductive dysfunction or menstrual problems for a sportswoman. Owing to heavy exercise girls always face postponed menarche, discontinuance of menses and long interval between two menstrual cycles.
Now the question arises: do these heavy workouts or sports have any long-term effects in a woman’s body?
If we go through the histories, we will find a lot of female athletes who have faced problem of being pregnant. For example, nine-time Olympic medalist swimmer Dara Torres trained hard for Olympics. When she tried to get pregnant, she failed. Only after she took a break from her training, she got pregnant.
This could happen to multitude of athletes such as swimmers, runners, dancers, gymnasts. So, why is this happening?
In 2009, a study was done in Norwegian women by Norwegian University of Science and Technology and it was found that there is a negative association between hard work and getting pregnant.
Athletes suffer more with ovulation and menstruation problems than normal women. This leads to infertility.
In athletes, exercise related ovarian problem, known as neuroendocrine dysfunction, can occur. Their menstrual problem or cessation of menstrual cycle is known as hypothalamic amenorrhea. It happens due to less estrogen secretion and less estrogen is problematic in producing eggs. This leads to infertility in sportswomen.
Exercise releases some hormones from our brain such as beta endorphin and catecholamine. With an increased level of exercise, the secretion of these hormones also increases. High amount of these hormones affects estrogen and progesterone function. This causes amenorrhea, which in long term can cause infertility.
A woman needs at least 22% body fat for ovulation and getting pregnant. Since most of the athletes don’t have that much body fat owing to getting fit, they face problem regarding ovulation followed by infertility.
Athletes are always in stress due to their sports. Negative emotions and stress have an impact on hypothalamus. They can cause hypothalamic amenorrhea, leading to infertility.
This doesn’t mean that athletes can never get pregnant. If anyone gets trouble in pregnancy due to heavy exercise, she needs to reduce the amount of exercise and change her dietary habit. If a person is suffering from amenorrhea, she can take oral contraceptive pills and hormone therapy.
In conclusion, we can tell that sportswomen intending to get pregnant need to be aware that excessive exercise may cause infertility. However, mild or moderate exercise can help in better ovulation and getting pregnant.