At Genesis Women's Health and Gynecology, we understand that women’s health goes beyond age-appropriate testing and examinations. It is also our job to counsel women about lifestyle habits and factors that may impact their reproductive health. An example of this is exercise.
Exercise is of course known to provide important health benefits. From weight loss to illness prevention, there are a number of things that physical activity offers our bodies as a whole. But the benefits of exercise go beyond looking slim and avoiding chronic illness. It also has a role to play in gynecologic health matters.
Exercise Helps With Weight & Reproductive Health
Exercise is perhaps most commonly associated with losing weight, particularly to slim down and look a certain way. In some cases, however, weight loss may be necessary to address certain women’s health issues and concerns:
- Living at an extremely high weight is associated with infertility due to irregular menstrual cycles.
- A high weight can contribute to the risk of adverse outcomes for both mother and baby across the course of pregnancy.
- Being overweight or obese is clearly linked with an increased risk of many types of cancer, including breast cancer. Experts also believe that being overweight or obese may increase the risk of cervical cancer.
Because a high weight can affect women so adversely, our team may speak with patients to help guide them in using physical activity to address weight-related health issues. While confirming a plan of action with a primary care provider or specialist may also be necessary (depending on one’s overall health needs), we can still provide resources that will support reproductive health along the way. We can also help women avoid exercises that will put too much stress on their reproductive system.
Exercise Helps With Diabetes & Reproductive Health
It’s well known that regular exercise is important in preventing diabetes. However, it will also be vital for women managing the condition, as diabetes can directly affect reproductive and sexual health:
How It Affects All Women - One of the side effects of diabetes, particularly unmanaged diabetes, is nerve damage due to high blood sugar levels. In women, this damage may affect the nerves in the vaginal area, affecting sensation. It may also interfere with the production of vaginal lubrication.
Diabetes can also cause other sexual issues not related to nerve damage. Drops in blood sugar during sexual activity may interfere with a woman’s experience with her partner. Additionally, poor diabetes control often results in more frequent yeast infections in women.
To prevent these types of issues, meal planning, exercise, and diabetes medications will all be necessary to keep one’s blood sugar at the proper levels, and to avoid the effects of diabetes-related damage.
How It Affects Hopeful Mothers: Women with diabetes who plan on becoming pregnant have special health concerns. For starters, women with diabetes carry a higher risk of having problems with menstrual regularity. It may be difficult for them to conceive. The challenges do not end there, however. Having the condition puts additional demands on a woman's body during pregnancy. It will therefore affect the need for different medications and approaches to managing blood sugar levels.
Knowing what to expect before something even happens is the ultimate key to managing diabetes during pregnancy. That’s why women living with diabetes should always schedule a pre-conception counseling appointment. This will allow you and your doctor to determine if your diabetes is under control prior to conception, and create a plan of action. While plans will vary slightly from woman to woman, meal planning, exercise, and diabetes medications will all be necessary to keep blood sugar levels at a healthy balance before, during, and after pregnancy.
Start Moving Today
Exercise clearly offers many vital benefits to women with certain health goals and conditions. Of course, regular activity is beneficial to all of us. Moderate physical activity in particular can help all women feel their best and keep their reproductive systems on track. Think brisk walking, leisurely cycling, golfing, and gardening!
Of course, Pittsburgh weather can make it hard to enjoy outdoor activities. Fortunately, there are many indoor activities to take advantage of instead. And for women who don’t enjoy going to the gym, dance classes, ice skating, and swimming may be the key to getting more movement into their day.
Exercise is important. But understanding your individual needs and how to manage them is even more important. If you have questions about your reproductive health goals and how to best meet them, we can help. Our services are designed to help you live a comfortable, healthy life, through a mixture of appropriate testing, counseling, and recommendations. To meet with Dr. Waltrip and our team, either as a new or existing patient, please request an appointment at (724) 488-4963, or via our practice’s Patient Portal.