Can Exercise Affect Your Menstrual Cycle and Fertility

Being healthy is something important for everyone, not just young men or young women, it’s for people of all ages. Hitting the gym, the yoga studio, or pressing play on YouTube to workout is something that everyone should be doing on a regular basis. Even something as simple as walking is good for everyone. It’s imperative to keep yourself young and vibrant even as you age. And this is just for the everyday person. Then you have people who workout on a regular basis like it’s their job. And for many it is.
If you take a look on Instagram or Facebook, people literally make a living working out, modeling their workout clothing lines, and showing other people how they got their while also drumming up a business based on personal results. They also show the day-to-day life of a fitness professional. Then you can go to your local gym and see trainers that also make their living helping other people physically by changing their lives. Even then you have professional marathoners, Olympic level sports starts, etc.
Exercise Though is Essential for a Healthy Pregnancy
Before we look at how it can affect your fertility, either in a good way or a bad way, you have to consider that fitness and exercise are extremely beneficial to a healthy pregnancy and a healthy labor. There are many fitness professionals that can show you how to work out correctly during that time including modifications during each trimester, benefits to the mother during and after pregnancy, helping with common complaints and core stability.[1] If you are a professional in this area, you would want to take courses such as the ones offered by the Fitness Network in order to learn the most that you can about potential clients and how to help them through their pregnancy in the healthiest way possible. Other than there though you can also look at The Pregnancy Centre where you can find a host of courses and places to learn a plethora of information regarding a pregnant client, or even for yourself. But now that we know what you can do to help clients and yourself during their pregnancy, let’s look at how it could affect them on the road to pregnancy and a healthy body and mind (because working out can help with mental health as well).
How Does Exercise Affect the Menstrual Cycle
Fitness and exercise is an integral part of their life. But what we want to know is that if all this working out is affecting your menstrual cycle and the ability to get pregnant. Let’s discuss the menstrual cycle first. One thing that’s important is knowing the length of your cycle and when you can anticipate having your next one.  A lot of people like to use an app that keeps track of it on a regular basis. However, there are others that want to generally know when to anticipate that and when they are ovulating. A site such as can assist you with that. In addition to articles all about your period and what affects it, you can also calculate your period dates, ovulation dates, conception dates and due dates among other things.
However, going back to the main question, yes working out can affect your cycle, as can changes in weight. We all know that missing a period can be a stressor if you are not looking to get pregnant. But it can definitely happen when you are exercising heavily. The first reason is that if you are working out to lose weight and you do in fact lose a significant amount of weight in a short period of time then you might experience what they call “secondary amenorrhea”[2] which generally happens with sudden and sustained weight loss. However, a small amount is not going to affect your menstrual cycle. However, consider that depending on your size this can affect your fertility later on, but we'll get to that.
One of the main reasons that fitness professionals, extreme athletes and people with a low body fat ratio have irregular periods is because there can be a considerable amount of stress put on the body with that much working out.[3] The body knows that it needs fat to keep a fetus healthy and the body will take all the actions necessary to prevent that if you are over exercising.
The main issue when it comes to exercise is that if you are taking part in an increased activity and decreased calorie intake, your period can stop, and generally that is linked with other issues as well such as issues with energy[4]. That can affect your performance when it comes to fitness. But in order for menstruation to happen, your body has to ovulate, which leads us to the next issue, does exercise affect fertility?
Exercise and Fertility
Again, while exercise, in general, is essential to keeping a body healthy, it can also be the cause of fertility issues. In order to have a period, one must also ovulate. If you are over-exercising, you are potentially causing your body to change the hormones that it puts out, therefore preventing ovulation and the ability to get pregnant.[5] Kristina Grish discusses conversations with her doctor when she was having trouble conceiving and was essentially working out for 90 minutes per day, five days per week.[6] While regular workouts are a good idea to help increase fertility, it was also determined that “Women who exercised 30 minutes or more daily had a reduced risk of infertility due to ovulation disorders.”[7]
There is an ideal weight for women to have a child and that’s within the normal range of their BMI. If you are working out and have a lower than normal BMI or a lower than 12 percent body fat ration, your fertility can be in jeopardy.  So again, while working out is a good thing, it can also hinder your ability to get pregnant.  There is such thing as too much of a good thing.
So while doing moderation workouts to remain healthy won’t affect your cycle or your fertility, if you are a fitness professional or someone who works out for a living, you might find it a little more difficult to reproduce. Take the time to evaluate what you are doing. Calculate your fertile periods in your cycle and take it from there. Knowing that you want to look good and feel good are an amazing trait to have as doing that can make a pregnancy easier and labor less painful, but there is a limit to which the body can adapt. So while yes you should stay healthy and continue with increased activity, don't do it too much, give yourself a break and know that once your body is ready, it will grace you with a baby. 


About the author
Stella Hawar is a writer and a mother of an adorable boy who likes to practice yoga, cook and visit the theatre. Currently she's working as a content manager at website which helps women understand their menstrual cycle and pregnancy by providing some useful calculators and resources, for example: fertility calendar, conception calculator, implantation calculator or pregnancy week calculator


[1]              Australian Fitness Network. Womens-Health.

[2]              The Femedic. Weight, Exercise, and Why your Period Might be Late.

[3]              See Above #2

[4]              Regan Hennessy via Livestrong. How Does Exercising Affect Your Period?

[5]              See Above #2

[6]              Kristina Grish via Fitness Magazine. Fit to Be a Mom? How Exercise Affects Your Fertility.

[7]              See Above #6