The Runner’s Fertility Journey

February 01, 2020

Let’s imagine Jane.  Jane is a 36 year old Spartan athlete and a marathon runner.  She loves the weekend long runs with her Toronto running group.  The people are great and keep her motivated.  She normally laughs and jokes with her fellow runners but lately her mind has been elsewhere.  For the last six months her and her husband have been actively trying to have a baby.  Every month on the 23rd her period comes and goes. Every month on the 23rd her hopes seem a little less bright.  Her mood just doesn’t quiet seem as light hearted as she once felt.  “Will I ever be able to have a baby?”, she finds herself asking. Should I stop running?  At this point Jane is starting feel moments of despair.

If you are like Jane, and you are thinking of or actively trying to have a baby, there are solutions for you.  Runners are unique people.  You do not have to give up your love for running.  What you need to understand is that the demands placed on your body are different than the average person.  Therefore, a women’s fertility treatment plan should be different too.

Jane met with her running group every week to train for her marathon.  This is how you need to approach your fertility goals.  Think of your fertility journey like you training schedule.  You don’t run a marathon without training.   

Creating a schedule for your Runners Fertility Journey will set the platform for your fertility success.  A proper training protocol will give your body time to prepare to host a beautiful baby.

What might my Runners Fertility Journey look like?

  • The onset of your journey will begin 3-6 months before you want to conceive.
  • Lab work and functional hormone testing can identify areas that require more support.  Optimal references ranges for athletic women are different than the general public.  It is important to have someone review your labs who understands your needs.
  • Specific Nutrition Protocols, including strategic detoxing, can help maintain your running demands and prepare your body to grow a baby.  In this journey, it is vital to build up the reserves of the mother.
  • Personalized Supplement Regime to support both your running and fertility needs.
  • Weekly Acupuncture Treatments.  Acupuncture is a process-oriented method of medical intervention.  Patients are commonly treated for three to four months before progressing to natural conception, IVF or IUI.  When used as a treatment for fertility, expected benefits are boosting blood flow to reproductive organs, balancing hormones and relieving stress.   Some studies have shown an improvement in conception by up to 70%. 
  • Booster options can be added to your Runners Fertility Journey such as IV Vitamin Therapy which provides additional nutrients to support egg quality, anxiety and replace deficient nutrients.

When considering specialized testing, one question I am often asked is – Can you measure your eggs?

  • If you are over 30 you might be thinking, do I have enough eggs left to get pregnant?  Thanks to modern medicine there is a blood test that can help you measure your eggs.  AMH, or Anti-Mullein Hormone, is a test of ovarian reserve. It is used to estimate the level of growing follicles a woman has in her remaining egg supply. Many woman (especially those over 40) who are considering conception with a fertility clinic may be asked to run this test. These levels naturally decrease as we approach menopause. If you are curious about your levels, our Female Fertility blood test Panel includes AMH.  If you have low AMH levels, do not despair, you only need one egg to get pregnant and I have developed protocols to support your fertility needs!

Does Running have an Impact on Fertility?

Studies have showed that moderate physical activity is associated with improved egg specific levels of ovarian reserve markers[i].  That’s good news for you!  In extreme situations, lowered body weights and intense training schedules (5-7 days of training per week[ii]) can cause amenorrhea (lack of a period).  This correlation would have a negative association on fertility and AMH levels[iii].  If you find yourself to be underweight and not cycling, this would become the main focus of our Runners Fertility Journey.  Supporting your body with nourishing foods and hormone protocols can help runners regain a regular hormonal pattern.

What did I do to support my fertility?

Often people ask, if I was in this situation what would I do?  Well, I did all of the above.  I am now a mother of three rambunctious kids!  Now it is my mission to maintain an active lifestyle which includes my children.  I would like to think that my active lifestyle played a role in my fertility and child birth. Was I just lucky? Maybe, but I wasn’t about to cross my fingers and hope everything went smooth. I ate clean, whole foods and plant-based meals. I took high quality supplements to benefit myself and my unborn baby. I went for walks in the valley. Bike rides along the board walk and hit the gym. I didn’t have any pain but I saw supportive professionals such as a registered massage therapist and chiropractor to ensure my hips and joints could move freely during childbirth. I had what is called Precipitous Labour, meaning fast! There is only so much we can control when it comes to conception and delivery, but we can choose to make healthy changes to our diet and lifestyle. As someone who has been in your shoes, I am here to help you make that change today!  Book online to start your Runners Fertility Journey.


[i] The Effect of Moderate Physical Activity on Ovarian Reserve Makers in Reproductive Age Women Below and Above 30


[iii] The Effect of Moderate Physical Activity on Ovarian Reserve Makers in Reproductive Age Women Below and Above 30

Dr. Jennifer Tanner, has a broad, evidence-based practice with a focus on sports and performance-based medicine. Being a marathon runner and having been a competitive equestrian, an active lifestyle is important. Dr. Tanner uses a variety of tools including Acupuncture and Clinical Nutrition, putting an emphasis on “food as medicine” and addressing the root causes of inflammation. In conjunction with the Integrative Health team, Dr. Tanner is thrilled to help people achieve an optimal state of health and pursue their performance based health goals!

Follow Dr. Tanner @DrJenniferTannerND  

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