Can Yoga Help with Fertility?
If you are struggling to get pregnant, you might be willing to try just about anything. Short of speaking with a psychic or trying different herbal remedies, the struggle is real for many women. In the U.S. alone, nearly 1 in 8 couples will have trouble with conception, and infertility can take a major toll on emotions, the body, and relationships.
If you are wondering, “can yoga help with fertility?” the answer is interesting. Here is what you need to know.
Can Yoga Help with Fertility?
The answer is, maybe. There are no research studies that directly link yoga and fertility. But some studies have concluded that yoga has benefits for women who are trying to conceive.
One study in India looked at 100 women that had experienced one unsuccessful round of IVF treatment. Half of the group were selected to practice yoga, and the other half were not. Of the group that practiced yoga for three months, 63 percent became pregnant compared to just 43 percent of the group that did not practice yoga.
The Benefits of Yoga for Fertility
If yoga is beneficial for couples trying to conceive, why does it work, and who should be practicing it? In general, about one-third of infertility cases are due to fertility issues with the women, one-third are caused by a male issue, and the rest are either unknown or a combination of the two.
That said, yoga has benefits for fertility for both women and men. Here is why you should give yoga a try if you are struggling to conceive:
- Strengthens the Body
Did you know that weight can impact infertility in both women and men? Exercise, along with a healthy diet, is a vital part of any weight loss program.
If you are struggling to conceive and are not in the best physical shape, yoga is a gentle way to get your body moving regularly. The practice increases flexibility and can burn calories.
- Reduces Anxiety, Stress, and Depression
Dealing with infertility can be incredibly stressful. Studies reveal that up to 40 percent of women who are going through infertility treatment experience some level of depression, anxiety, or both. Just being told to “relax” can have the opposite effect and make matters worse.
Incorporating mindfulness and yoga exercises can help lower stress levels and even improve the functioning of your immune system. In one study, participants described their anxiety levels as 20 percent lower after six weeks of yoga.
- Balances Hormones
High stress levels can impact your hormones, which also affect reproduction. Your breath, state of mind, balance, and body functions are all connected. When you practice yoga, there is better interaction between your hormones and brain. This will improve sexual desire as well as boost the chances for conception.
- Supports Sperm Production
Infertility issues are often caused by low sperm counts in men. In many cases, these troubles are due to environmental and lifestyle factors like smoking, obesity, and stress. One study revealed that daily yoga could help lower anxiety and stress, improve body function, and support the production of sperm.
- Boosts ART Success Rates
As mentioned earlier, yoga has the potential to increase the chance of getting pregnant while trying assisted reproductive technology (ART) such as IVF. The results of studies are encouraging.
Is Yoga Safe When Trying to Get Pregnant?
Even if you have never tried yoga before, it is completely safe to practice yoga for fertility. But it’s important to start slow and avoid overdoing your poses. Do only what is you find comfortable and pay attention to your breathing. You could risk getting injured if you go too far into a pose without proper training and alignment.
It is also a good idea to speak with your doctor before starting yoga. In a few rare cases, your physician might advise against it or caution you to avoid certain poses. Finally, hot yoga may not be the best idea for anyone that is trying to get pregnant or might be pregnant. Hot yoga is an extreme form practiced in an artificially heated environment. Hot yoga is known to precent health risks for those that suffer from a variety of health issues and should be avoided by anyone pregnant or attempting to become pregnant.
Best Types of Yoga to Help with Fertility
We have established that you might want to steer clear of hot yoga, but what about other types? There are between 8 and 13 major styles of yoga, depending on who you ask. So which ones are the best to help with fertility?
Each type of yoga is characterized by a different focus, environment, or sequence. Some are more appropriate than others if you are a yoga beginner or trying to get pregnant.
The gentlest types of yoga include:
The types of yoga that are a bit more vigorous are:
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If you are focused on fertility, you should probably start with one of the gentler types. If it seems too simple and your doctor agrees, you can graduate to one of the others listed.
Yoga Poses to Try If You’re Struggling with Fertility
One of the great things about yoga is that you can practice it just about anywhere. If you do not want to join a yoga studio, you can learn to do some yoga poses at home that could help you with fertility. Here are some fertility-boosting poses to try at least four times per week for the best results.
Staff Pose, Foot, and Ankle Warm-Up
It can be harder to get pregnant if your pelvic floor is out of alignment from walking around in heels all day. This pose improves circulation and can promote overall relaxation.
- Sit on a mat or blanket with legs extended, hands flat on the mat, and your back straight.
- Turn both ankles clockwise in a circle five times; repeat in the opposite direction.
- Point and flex your feet 10 times.
- Bend and rotate your ankles; wiggle your toes.
- Bounce your knees up and down gently to shake out your legs.
Half Ankle to Knee
This pose is a hip-opener that releases tension in your body and promotes better alignment of your pelvic organs.
- Sit in the staff pose (same as above) and bend your right knee, placing your right ankle just above your left knee.
- With your right hand, press your right thigh down firmly. At the same time, press the palm of your left hand into your right foot. Hold for several breaths.
- Gently bounce the knee for hip joint lubrication.
- Gradually bend forward to engage your abdominal muscles.
- Repeat on the opposite side.
This is an excellent yoga pose to improve circulation, relax, and stimulate your endocrine and immune systems.
- Begin on your back with feet flat on the floor and about hip-distance apart, knees bent, and arms at your side, palms up.
- Exhale and push your lower back into the floor, lifting your buttocks until you are resting on your upper back. Your pelvis should be curled and back straight.
- Take deep breaths and stay in the pose for 5 to 15 breaths.
- Slowly lower to the floor as your spine touches the mat from upper to lower back.
- Repeat several times.
The mountain pose is another yoga pose that promotes better pelvis alignment, a stronger core, and improved circulation.
- Stand on your mat with feet hip-distance apart. Slightly bend your knees while placing one hand on the small of your back and the other just below your belly button.
- Lengthen your lower back, engage your abdominal muscles, and curl your tailbone under.
- Bring your arms to your sides and straighten your legs.
- Deeply inhale while dropping your shoulders.
- Hold this pose for at least two minutes while inhaling and exhaling deeply.
Can yoga help with fertility? It is certainly possible. For couples struggling to get pregnant, there are few downsides to doing yoga and many benefits. If yoga does not directly help you conceive it can still lead to improved fitness and happiness though better and physical and mental health.