Emily Oster

4 min Read Emily Oster

Emily Oster

Do I Have to Stop Running Before an Egg Retrieval?

Q&A on IVF

Emily Oster

4 min Read

My wife and I have gone through six rounds of intrauterine insemination each (all unsuccessful), so we are going to try IVF. I’m an ultrarunner who has completed several 100-mile races and a 290-mile race as well. I’ve been running ultras for about seven years. I cut back on my running during the months I was trying IUI. Currently I’m averaging about 50 miles a week to train for a marathon on September 9 with hopes of qualifying for Boston. I’ve also got a 100-miler on the calendar for November 4, with hopes to PR and plans to take a few weeks easy after the marathon and then build back up to about 70 miles a week, which I’ve done in the past. 

When we asked our doctor about if I should change anything about my running if I were going to do an egg retrieval (I don’t plan to carry first, but we are considering reciprocal IVF), she said she would recommend cutting back on my running before the retrieval by 20%, but it seemed like a fairly arbitrary answer. Her thought is we could do it between the marathon and the 100-miler. 

I am wondering if there is data out there about exercise/distance running and egg retrieval success, especially as we weigh our options. After nearly 18 months of trying to get pregnant, we want to move quickly with IVF, but I’ve also put a ton of work into this training cycle and don’t want to throw it all away. That being said, we would prefer the reciprocal option if the data says that can happen without me throwing away the 100-miler. Any info available?

—Hopeful runner mom

Two hundred ninety miles?! That is crazy awesome. I have so many questions.

There is plenty of data adjacent to what you want. On one hand, there is data on endurance sports and menstruation. For women who engage in intense endurance sports — distance running, cycling, swimming, etc. — there is a significant risk of underfueling, which can impact your menstrual cycle and overall health. This is an issue that is increasingly recognized among female athletes. It relates to the female athlete triad: underfueling leading to loss of menstruation and bone-density issues.

The process for promoting egg production through IVF “games” your menstrual system a bit, by hyperstimulation, but it seems possible that if you’re overall undernourished, it could affect the success.

On the other side, we have reassuring data about endurance sports and pregnancy. If you’re menstruating normally, there isn’t anything in the data to suggest you would have a harder time getting pregnant, and exercising during pregnancy is generally considered a plus, even at higher intensity levels. I understand this isn’t quite your question, but it’s question-adjacent.

Unfortunately for you, but perhaps not surprisingly, there is little or no data on IVF egg cycles among ultrarunners. In fact, there isn’t much data on either pregnancy among ultrarunners or IVF among runners at lower levels of intensity. The recommendation to reduce by 20% cannot be based on data, since there isn’t any data.

There is an additional factor I would bring up. For many women — not all, but many — the process of IVF egg retrieval has some significant side effects, including mood alterations, fatigue, and general physical discomfort. Running 100 miles a week during this period may be a challenge even if it doesn’t have any impact on the egg success rate.

Realistically, I think this is a place where data isn’t going to answer your question. Your body may force a slowdown, so I probably wouldn’t plan a peak week of 100-mile race training when you’re in the middle of this. I also do not see anything compelling to force you to drop miles in service of eggs.

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Milestones. We celebrate them in pregnancy, in parenting, and they’re a fun thing to celebrate at work too. Just a couple years ago I couldn’t have foreseen what this community would grow into. Today, there are over 400,000 of you here—asking questions, making others feel seen wherever they may be in their journey, and sharing information that supports data > panic. 

It has been a busy summer for the team at ParentData. I’d love to take a moment here to celebrate the 400k milestone. As I’ve said before, it’s more important than ever to put good data in the hands of parents. 

Share this post with a friend who could use a little more data, and a little less parenting overwhelm. 

📷 Me and my oldest, collaborating on “Expecting Better”

Milestones. We celebrate them in pregnancy, in parenting, and they’re a fun thing to celebrate at work too. Just a couple years ago I couldn’t have foreseen what this community would grow into. Today, there are over 400,000 of you here—asking questions, making others feel seen wherever they may be in their journey, and sharing information that supports data > panic.

It has been a busy summer for the team at ParentData. I’d love to take a moment here to celebrate the 400k milestone. As I’ve said before, it’s more important than ever to put good data in the hands of parents.

Share this post with a friend who could use a little more data, and a little less parenting overwhelm.

📷 Me and my oldest, collaborating on “Expecting Better”
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I spend a lot of time talking people down after they read the latest panic headline. In most cases, these articles create an unnecessary amount of stress around pregnancy and parenting. This is my pro tip for understanding whether the risk presented is something you should really be worrying about.

Comment “link” for an article with other tools to help you navigate risk and uncertainty.

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Do any of these findings surprise you? Let us know in the comments!

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Dr. Gillian Goddard sums up what she learned from the Hot Flash S e x Survey! Here are some key data takeaways:

🌶️ Among respondents, the most common s e x u a l frequency was 1 to 2 times per month, followed closely by 1 to 2 times per week
🌶️ 37% have found their sweet spot and are happy with the frequency of s e x they are having
🌶️ About 64% of respondents were very or somewhat satisfied with the quality of the s e x they are having

Do any of these findings surprise you? Let us know in the comments!

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Here’s what we know from a data standpoint:
✈️ The risk of injury to a child on a plane without a carseat is very small (about 1 in 250,000)
✈️ A JAMA Pediatrics paper estimates about 0.4 child air crash deaths per year might be prevented in the U.S. with car seats
✈️ Cars are far more dangerous than airplanes! The same JAMA paper suggests that if 5% to 10% of families switched to driving, then we would expect more total deaths as a result of this policy.

If you want to buy a seat for your lap infant, or bring a car seat for an older child, by all means do so! But the additional protection based on the numbers is extremely small.

#parentdata #emilyoster #flyingwithkids #flyingwithbaby #carseats #carseatsafety
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Head to the newsletter for more and stay tuned for part two next week on naps! 🌙

#parentdata #emilyoster #childsleep #babysleep #parentingcommunity

SLEEP DATA 💤 We asked you all about your kids’ sleep—and got nearly 15,000 survey responses to better understand kids’ sleep patterns. Comment “Link” for an article that breaks down our findings!

This graph shows sleeping location by age. You’ll notice that for the first three months, most kids are in their own sleeping location in a parent’s room. Then, over the first year, this switches toward their own room. As kids age, sharing a room with a sibling becomes more common.

Head to the newsletter for more and stay tuned for part two next week on naps! 🌙

#parentdata #emilyoster #childsleep #babysleep #parentingcommunity
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Weekends are good for extra cups of ☕️ and listening to podcasts. I asked our team how they pod—most people said on walks or during chores. What about you?

Comment “Link” to subscribe to ParentData with Emily Oster, joined by some excellent guests.

#parentdata #parentdatapodcast #parentingpodcast #parentingtips #emilyoster

Weekends are good for extra cups of ☕️ and listening to podcasts. I asked our team how they pod—most people said on walks or during chores. What about you?

Comment “Link” to subscribe to ParentData with Emily Oster, joined by some excellent guests.

#parentdata #parentdatapodcast #parentingpodcast #parentingtips #emilyoster
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Humility. That’s why. That’s the whole reason.

#emilyoster #secondbaby #parentingjokes #parentinghumor

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#emilyoster #secondbaby #parentingjokes #parentinghumor
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Prevention is key! I suggest:
⭐ Regular tick checks
⭐ Using bug sprays with DEET 
⭐ Wearing long sleeves and pants in the woods

Some parents worry about DEET, but repellants with up to 30% DEET are recommended by both the CDC and AAP. The data says you’re in the clear, so go for it. Enjoy your summer!

#parentdata #emilyoster #tickseason #bugbites #bugspray

Bug season is upon us. Besides annoyance, this can bring up safety concerns, particularly with ticks. They are carriers of diseases, most notably Lyme disease. So what’s the best course of action?

Prevention is key! I suggest:
⭐ Regular tick checks
⭐ Using bug sprays with DEET
⭐ Wearing long sleeves and pants in the woods

Some parents worry about DEET, but repellants with up to 30% DEET are recommended by both the CDC and AAP. The data says you’re in the clear, so go for it. Enjoy your summer!

#parentdata #emilyoster #tickseason #bugbites #bugspray
...