Stims & Exercise: Should I or shouldn’t I?

I just returned from one of my beloved barre classes. I dedicated a whole separate blog to my love for fitness, so you can imagine that the question of whether or not I should or shouldn’t exercise while shooting myself up with Bravelle is an important one (to me and my ovaries at least). I tried to take it easy throughout the class, but if you’ve ever tried Pop Physique you’ll know that it’s hard as hell no matter what you do or don’t do. Sure it’s low impact, but it involves ballet and Pilates type moves with a direct focus on the core. We all know the core well, it’s that place where endometriosis grows, where good and bad eggs dwell, and where embryos should implant and prosper into a million little mini people. With that said, I’m not sure doing various ab strengthening moves is safe right now. What do you think? Did you continue to exercise while using stims? Did you have a successful cycle when doing so? I’m leaning toward long walks until I get a BFN (sorry but I don’t have much hope that this will work) at the end of July.

That leads me to another question, Chinese Medicinal herbs and whether or not to continue using them throughout my first IUI. My Chinese Medicine woman Dr. Jing urged me to continue, claiming it can help the process. After another semi-bearable AF I’m reluctant to stop them completely. The last few months I’ve noticed that my muscles recover more quickly after workouts, I have little to no back pain (something I typically have all the time), and little to no PMS symptoms – all of which I attribute to the herbs and needles. Though I do think it’s a tad weird that all of a sudden my follicles have disappeared and my AMH has plummeted. Could there be a correlation between my more pleasant cycles, the herbs, and less estrogen in my body as a result of said herbs, thereby making my ovaries quiet? That’s what one friend theorizes at least. I’ve ask Dr. Jing if she’s totally sure that I should herb it up in conjunction with injectables and yes, she’s sure. According to her my formula is simply meant to quell inflammation in the body that results from endometriosis. Many women like me do both and have success, she claims. And like my fertility clinic, the Chinese clinic’s walls are lined with photos of smiling happy babies. I do believe they’ve had success getting and keeping people pregnant. Plus I’m deathly afraid that my endo pain will come back which makes potentially parting with the herbs, even for a month, especially difficult.

Of course I’ve asked my RE these questions, but have been given only vague answers. On exercise: “just take it a little easier.” On herbs: “I have to advise against them because I haven’t studied them.”

Yet, I’m needing more concrete advice at this point. Exercise or no exercise? Herbs or no herbs? What did you do for your first injectable cycle of IUI?

PS – After progesterone injections, the Bravelle shots are cake. I find myself weirdly liking needles at this point. I enjoy making the little mixture, and then shooting egg juice into my belly is strangely satisfying. I’m also thinking this is good practice for the IVF cycle that’s sure to follow. Unfortunately, I’m only two shots in and already feel like I’ve  lost IUI this battle. Is that lame or what?

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15 comments

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  1. gardengirl29

    Hi friend! I personally would do light/moderate exercise (enough to destress) and no herbs just in case there could be any interactions. My RE said no herbs during cycles. I know it’s a totally personal choice, though. I wish more was known about all these things- it always feels a little like playing Russian Roulette.

    Good luck, and big hugs! I’m so glad that the shots are way better than the progesterone shots!

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      • gardengirl29

        It totally sucks! It’s so confusing because these things could either help or hurt, and you don’t want to NOT do it if it could help, but of course you don’t want to do it if it could hurt! It’s frustrating that there aren’t more studies about this stuff. And obviously the herbs seem to be helpful for your endo, so that would make going off them very hard. Anyway, I just wanted to let you know that I can see why it’s such a dilemma!

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      • Steph Mignon

        Thank you for your understanding! I think I will stop herbs for now and start back up again after the stims. My TCM doc isn’t going to be happy, but I’m sure she’ll understand!

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  2. Lauren

    Hi! I love to exercise! Barre classes, running, step classes…you name it! However, walking is the safest during medicated cycles like this. Your ovaries (poor things) are being blown up with hormones. There is actual danger of them twisting, etc during exercise. I would avoid ab work for a while…my doctor said to act as though I was already pregnant during ivf cycles. I did, however, buy a couple of pregnancy DVDs and continued the moderated workouts some days. The ab work in the DVDs is safer for pregnancy. By the way, I’ve gotten BFNs on three cycles, and after the negatives have been able to jump back into my long runs. It almost seemed that my body appreciated the break although I nearly went stir crazy! However, as I was walking, I would remind myself that something much bigger was at stake. The hormones also make me gain weight (about 5 pounds per cycle). However, I’ve decided to count that as part of my “pregnancy weight” and try to worry about losing it later.

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  3. gradualchanges

    Exercise? You know my fat ass doesn’t do much of that these days… For you, I would say keep it low impact without a lot of bouncy movements or twisting through the core. During IVF injections my ovaries feel like I’m walking around with water balloons in my pelvis so you’ll probably be able to feel them a little. I’m with Lauren… If its safe during pregnancy it’s probably ok but be conservative. I also gained about 5 lbs of bloat with my first IVF (that I never lost). The TCM herbs are a harder call. REs will always say no since they don’t know what it is and it could have some sort of impact on your reaction to the stims. If your TCM practitioner is a fertility specialist and knows the deal with stims and swears its safe with no contraindications then I think it’s your call… Just be consistent so fluctuating herbs don’t impact the efficacy of your stims. Interesting theory your friend has… It’s totally possible.

    As for the needles, you’re twisted. But once you’ve done the intramuscular PIO shots, subcutaneous stims are a piece of cake. Good luck. I know you’re not very hopeful right now, but don’t throw in the towel just yet.

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    • Steph Mignon

      I see tons of pregnant women (bitches) in my barre classes so maybe I can just stick to videos at home and avoid the ab section! The last thing I need is some exploding ovaries!

      And that’s great advice on the herbs. My TCM practitioner does specialize in fertility so I might continue with the herbs as directed. I just hate to do anything that will impair my ovaries’ ability to respond. I’m gun shy enough about the sudden drop in follicles and AMH, BUT like you said I don’t want to go switching things up too much either.

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  4. barrenandunemployed

    When my RE recommended acupuncture for me, the nurse specifically said to me, “she’s going to want you to take herbs – do not take the herbs, they can interfere with our medications, just do the acupuncture.” Now of course, I’ve gone against that, but I haven’t done another medicated cycle yet. Just like your acu, mine has said that she doesn’t have/see a problem with taking the herbs while doing medicated cycles, but she seemed to respect that my doctor’s wishes are for no herbs during treatments. Not that this really gives you much more insight, but I thought I’d share what I’ve been told. 🙂

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    • Steph Mignon

      That’s EXACTLY what my RE has said. I think my plan is to stop the herbs until AFTER stims. Then at least I’ll have them for the second half of my cycle, therefore making AF more bearable (hopefully). It’s just so hard to know the right move, especially when TCM has helped me SO much!

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  5. InLimbo

    I’m just beginning my fourth IVF cycle, and I’ve been doing acupuncture for six months. This will be my first cycle with acupuncture. I love my acupuncturist, and the needling has dramatically improved my health in many ways, although it didn’t help with my endo pain, unfortunately. I can’t really speak to the effects of herbs personally (I tried them briefly, but I reacted with asthma so I had to stop), but I wanted to relay what my acupuncturist said about herbs when we first discussed them: she said she would stop all the herbs during cycles so they wouldn’t interfere. She also specializes in fertility. It’s a tough call, but my thought would be similar to gradualchanges above: I would think the most important thing would be to be consistent with whatever you’re doing throughout the cycle. Good luck!

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    • Steph Mignon

      Thanks for your insight! And may your fourth cycle be successful!!! As for the herbs I’ve decided to stop them during stims and then possibly start them back up again after IUI. I’m just so afraid of my endo pain coming back and know for certain that it’s the herb/needle combo that’s made all the difference. OR I might just tough out this cycle with no herbs at all with the hope of being “consistent” and then start up again next month. Le sigh.

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  6. K

    My re had said I could do the half marathon I had planned during our Ivf cycle. Lol! I didn’t. In my case it cost out of pocket so there was no way I was jeopardizing my results. I think my last run was the week I started the meds. I can’t remember everything I tried, but hopefully I recorded it on my blog, so check in my archives -Jan 2013.
    Ps-I haven’t poked around yet, but you mention endo. Do you have endo? If so, iui isn’t typically successful w it. I’d get a second opinion from a different re. My re and ob told me we could do iui but that we could waste a good amount of $. Since my ovaries were the issue, bypassing them worked (Ivf). GL! 🙂

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    • Steph Mignon

      Yes, I’m going a round of IUI. I conceived and miscarried 3 months after my lap so we wanted to try one cycle this way. We also figured this would give us a good practice run to see how my body reacts to stims. I’m injecting bravelle twice daily and am on my third day. I have NO side affects which makes me think it isn’t working! Ahhh! Oh and thanks a bunch for that info on running, makes me feel better because I plan to at least go on the bike for 30-minutes tomorrow. Exercise keeps me sane!

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