- Megan McInturff
Ask an OB/GYN: How Can Yoga Help with Fertility?
Infertility is often a private experience and challenging time for couples which makes it hard to ask important questions about how practicing yoga affects fertility. So we fielded those hard-to-ask questions for you and sat down with our favorite OB/GYN, Dr. Giovannina Anthony, to get the answers. Here Dr. Anthony shares with YogaToday how yoga can help relieve stress and boost fertility.
How can yoga help with my fertility issues?
Yoga can help a woman with fertility issues primarily through management of chronic stress and anxiety. Stress is well known to inhibit fertility, and yoga is an extremely effective stress management technique. Physically, yoga helps fertility issues by promoting circulation in the gynecologic organs and pelvis, including sacral plexus, hips, and groin. Yoga also promotes relaxation of the muscles and connective tissue pelvic floor, and as a result can improve overall health in the pelvic structures.
How is fertility yoga different from my regular yoga practice?
For women who are trying to conceive, any yoga postures that open up the hips, increase blood flow or increase strength in the pelvic floor will be beneficial. Restorative yoga is extremely helpful for women who are trying to conceive as it promotes a sense of well-being and calm. Kundalini yoga and the breathing techniques incorporated into most types of yoga practice are a tremendous boost for women trying to conceive.
How are stress and infertility related?
Infertile women experience extreme stress. Yoga for women undergoing infertility treatments and for infertile couples can be critical to helping these patients through the process, because it helps them manage the stress of a scenario that has the potential to take over their life. Pranayama breathing helps to lower stress hormones like cortisol, which can impede reproductive function. Yoga calms the mind and relaxes the body, which boosts fertility.
Can I practice fertility yoga if I am getting in vitro fertilization (IVF) or other treatments with my doctor?
In my opinion, activity modification has no bearing on fertility with regards to decreased activity or bedrest. I believe that yoga is a fantastic process for women who are trying to conceive via IVF.
Hot/Bikram Yoga vs. Vinyasa: is one form of yoga better than another?
Patients who are experiencing infertility should pursue the type of yoga that feels best to them. During pregnancy, I recommend that women practice the kind of yoga that most appeals to them. However, the issue that arises with hot yoga is hydration and the raising of core temperature. It is imperative that pregnant women are diligent with water intake during the practice as well as monitoring their core temperature. If these issues persist during hot/Bikram yoga, I do recommend practicing Vinyasa, Hatha, or any other form of yoga in a cooler studio. In fact, most pregnant women will prefer a cooler studio as the pregnancy progresses.
Make sure to read Dr. Giovannina's other articles about yoga and pregnancy: