Is it Safe to Do Yoga During Egg Freezing?
The main thing to do is: Ask your doctor!
Business Casual Yoga staff consulted with Pacific Fertility Center in San Francisco, and here’s what we learned.
1. Listen to Your Body
You are the expert on your body. And, your relationship to yourself is the longest-term relationship you’ll ever have. Western culture emphasizes a “do more, try harder, go-go-go” attitude, but… remember we are “human beings” not “human doings.”
As Jane Austin shared in a prenatal yoga teacher training, “you have the right to choose your birth position.” The same goes for how you choose to move when you go through the preparatory medications (read: multiple nightly injections!) for fertility preservation through cryopreservation of mature oocytes, better known as egg freezing. What kind of movement feels good to you?
2. Pain is a Sign to Stop
As Pacific Fertility Center nurses advised, “If it hurts, don’t do it!”
A common side effect of the medications that stimulate the ovaries to mature the eggs prior to retrieval is bloating. Additionally, when you get 2 or 3 injections per night for however many nights it takes to get ready for the egg retrieval (8 to 17, but most people are 10-12)… you may have bruising or soreness around the injection sites. That is: your belly might hurt!
So, yoga poses that used to feel fine, such as laying on the belly, may no longer feel so good.
Trust your body.
3. Don’t Start a New Exercise Program
During the egg freezing process is not the best time to go try Crossfit or train for a marathon for the first time. As your ovaries and belly grow, and the injections might make your belly sore, it probably won’t feel good to do high impact exercise like running, either. In fact, Pacific Fertility Center staff recommended only low impact exercise and avoiding high impact exercise until 2 weeks after your retrieval date.
Low-impact exercise might include:
Qi gong (like this online course)
Swimming (before your egg retrieval or 2 weeks after)
Dancing in your room to your favorite tunes (but without jumping)
4. Possible Risks / Poses to Avoid
The main concern for yoga poses to avoid during egg freezing is “ovarian torsion.” This is because the ovaries are enlarged during this time. Specifically, in very deep twists or full body inversions (like handstand), the ovaries could twist around their own blood supply. Fixing this would require emergency surgery. And if you’re spending thousands of dollars to retrieve your eggs, you don’t want to have to get surgery prematurely!
However, if you are working away at your computer and feel the need to stretch, a little upper back twist is probably fine. Just not twists in yoga class which tend to be deeper than how you’d move in work clothes.
5. Self-Care Resources
As your ovaries grow, it’s a little like being pregnant: let’s call it “eggnancy.” And the hormones pulsing through your body, particularly estrogen, will also change your experience of your emotions.You will experience mood swings and a range of feelings that can include: sadness, anger, irritability, being really tired, as well as being more emotionally attuned, more embodied, and/or more “centered” and “grounded.”
The more self-care you do, the more manageable the emotions will be. It’s like a good preview of pregnancy, but shorter. If you find this analogy helpful, consider that the creative energy (in the form of hormones) expresses itself into body – matter (eggs) and mind – emotions.
Mindfulness self-care tips:
Channel your extra creative energy in useful ways: journal, make art, sing, cook; whatever gives you joy.
Set an intention: for your day, for your meditation, etc.
Having an intention can bring your mind back to the present and can cut through an intense, ego-clingy emotion like anger.
Get a massage! And check if the practitioner has prenatal experience i.e. so you can lie on your side rather than your belly.
Yin Wellness has a wonderful set of resources for women, from a 9 month program that has videos you can do anytime as well as 1:1 coaching.
Meditate: practicing mindfulness helps remind you that you are not your emotions; you can watch them (it’s like watching a dramatic TV show, but in your mind/body) and remember that you don’t need to hang on to them.
Do less. Don’t overschedule yourself. Allow 1-2 hours after your evening injections for self-care.
Before your retrieval procedure, it’s normal to feel anxious, especially if it’s the first time you’ve ever had surgery.
Yoga Poses That May Be Safe During Egg Freezing
Business Casual Yoga staff designed this sequence for clients going through the egg freezing process. You may not feel like doing yoga later on as you get closer to your retrieval date, but here is an option that you can explore.
Remember rule #1: Listen to your body!
Note: this sequence is Forrest-inspired hatha/vinyasa and is more dynamic/active; if you’re feeling depleted, restorative yoga may be more appropriate
Here is a 1 hour yoga sequence with no inversions or twists. For questions, contact us at email@example.com
Seated breathing exercises (pranayama):
1) Alternate nostril breathing
2) Brahmari (bee buzzing breath/humming)
3) 3 part breath (belly, ribs, chest)
Set intent - self-acceptance/acknowledging emotions
Seated side bend, 1 leg out -> neck release
Butterfly / Baddha konasana, seated
Dandasana (staff pose)
Abs: pelvic tilts
(2ndab set is optional: Pilates style toe taps)
Cat-cow -> opposite arm/leg reaches
Vinyasa with sphinx (instead of upward dog)
Chair pose x3
W2 shoulder shrugs -> reverse warrior
W1 brain cradle -> warrior 3 (or standing balancing e.g. tree?)
Pyramid -> lizard (pyramid alternative: half splits)
W1 archer -> W3
Goddess squats - prenatal style
horse stance with Ujjayi breath
*Pigeon (peak pose)
Hug knees in - mini abs (lift torso up to knee/thigh)
Legs up the wall
A parting thought from a Taoist saying: “Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.”
For a one on one consultation about customizing yoga to your unique needs, email firstname.lastname@example.org today.