Fertility and paleo/crossfit

by 20 · October 04, 2011 at 08:07 PM

I have been doing crossfit for about 6 weeks and eating paleo about 2 months. I've noticed that my cycles are a lot longer lately (50-60 days), instead of about 30-35 days which is what they were before. I don't really know if I'm ovulating either. The last time I actually know for sure I ovulated was in June/July Do you think the diet and exercise could be causing this? We are trying to conceive. I am 5'7", and 110 pounds. I don't know my BMI, but I'm assuming it's low based on me weight and height. I'm definitely not trying to lose weight...if anything I've been eating more lately to maintain my current weight, or even gain. Should I stop crossfit or not be eating as strict paleo? Lots of people seem to benefit, fertility wise, while crossfitting and eating paleo, but maybe since I'm already pretty small as it is, it's making it worse for me? What do you think?

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8 Replies

55322 · September 19, 2011 at 05:58 PM

You need to closely monitor your caloric intake. I did this when I had irregular periods and I was shocked at how low it was (I used cronometer). If it's low you will need to start forcing yourself to eat more calories, either by eating more food or by adding more fat to your food or both (haiga rice or yams with ghee for example). You are going to have to adjust Cronometer for the amount of exercise you are doing and your goal weight (which should be higher). You'd be surprised at how many calories you need and how hard it can be to get them on paleo. Based on my Cronometer, it says for your height and weight with high activity and a goal of 120 lbs, you need 2700 calories a day. Your weight is way too low right now so I suspect this is an issue. I was have issues at 5'2" and 100 lbs and you are significantly taller. I'm now more around 110.

Most of the weight gain has been concentrated on my backside, which is exactly where fat in women is supposed to be to maximize fertility. Some people will tell you that you can't spot gain or reduce, but these fat masses are hormonally regulated and altered your hormones can alter their size. I would also recommend eating roe, grass-fed ghee/butter oil, and cod liver oil. I've had other women tell me that they've gotten good curves and better cycles this way.

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39204 · September 19, 2011 at 05:40 PM

If your bodyfat is too low, your hypothalamus will receive too weak of a leptin signal from your fat cells and shut down GnRH secretion, which activates the rest of the hormonal cascade (FSH, LH) leading to estradiol production in the ovaries. 5'7" 110 is extremely lean for a female.

Additionally, intense exercise increases zinc depletion at a greater rate (which would have the same result as too little bodyfat), and if you have endured periods of low zinc intake due to dietary restriction in general, but especially as a result of a veg*n diet in the past, you could be pushing yourself into a significant deficiency. Simply eating meat would either take a very long time to correct this or possibly not work at all. Because of how crucial zinc is for the development of a the fetus, you probably wouldn't want to get pregnant if you were deficient anyway.

The correction of a deficiency-related amenorrhea via zinc supplementation can take a long time as well: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1600-0447.1990.tb11077.x/abstract

In 13 subjects the menstruation returned 1–17 months after the initiation of zinc therapy.

You wouldn't be as deficient as them of course, so if this were the cause, it shouldn't take that long. It'd be better to overshoot though.

There are obviously a bunch of other issues that could interfere, but these are easy ones to address first.

32177 · September 19, 2011 at 06:16 PM

If I were trying to conceive, I would do Crossfit only 2x per week and walk (slowly) more. You want to keep your cortisol level down.

As was already said, more carbs/calories, & more zinc (the RDA is likely not sufficient for optimal health.)

15964 · September 19, 2011 at 06:09 PM

I echo what everyone else here says - but one thing that I have read and experience myself is the Progesterone Steal. Basically if you are stressed or doing some stressful exercise (like Crossfit or HIIT)then your aderanls can and will convert your Progesterone into Cortisol. This leads to irregular cycles, anovulation and all sorts of other crappy stuff.

I guess one way to instantly lower cortisol is to eat some fast acting carbs - which you should maybe consider doing post Crossfit.

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I stopped all HIIT crossfit style workouts and instead do moderate lifting and moderate walking for longer periods of time. After ditching the intensity work my period retured after not having one for 7 years! I also dropped my carbs (I was experimenting with lots of fruits) and instead eat a high fat, moderate protein low carb diet. I cannot pinpoint which change made the difference. But that a shift in hormones DID happen. I would venture to say it was dropping the intense exercise.

630 · September 19, 2011 at 05:50 PM

your very very thin!! and paleo makes you lose BF so that may be an issue. Eat fats and nuts! however i'm 5'4" 123 and cycles are irregular since getting on paleo (about a year). So i'm not sure of the correlation


10878 · September 19, 2011 at 05:11 PM

Are you getting plenty of your fat soluable activators like AD and K? How much fat are you eating? Are you getting enough cholesterol from liver and eggs? Hormones require fat. :-)

I would highly recommend you check the Weston price foundation for some interesting fertility and nutrition info. "Deep Nutrition" by Dr. Catherine Shanahan

If you're already doing all that you might need more starchy carbs like potatoes on sweet potatoes to put on a little weight.

2291 · September 19, 2011 at 06:19 PM

You most likely won't be able to conceive at that height/weight. And if you do, you probably won't be able to safely carry a child. Have you always been that thin? I would suggest consuming more starchy vegetables, more fatty meat & coconut oil, and high fat dairy. Nut butter too, & supplement with lots of fish oil. You may also want to cut down on the training if you are doing it many days/week. When your cycles go back to normal, I would advise gaining some healthy weight before getting pregnant so as to avoid complications or miscarriage.

20 · September 19, 2011 at 05:40 PM

OMG! I'm on the same boat. I still have not got my period for a year after I stopped the pills. I have been trying to get pregnant for almost a year and the Dr told me to cut down on working out. which I did and he also told me to eat Burger king.(don't think so) He wants me to gain weight. Which I did and still nothing.:(

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