High physical activity and ovarian reserve: a prospective study of normo-ovulatory professional athletes

Netanella Miller*, Yael Pasternak, Einat Haikin Herzberger, Hadar Gluska, Chen Dorenstein, Roni Rahav, Rina Hemi, Nahid Zada, Amir Wiser

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: This study investigated whether high physical activity affects ovarian reserve in normo-ovulatory, reproductive-age women. Methods: This prospective, observational study compared 31 professional female athletes, with 31 women who did not engage in physical activity. It was conducted 2017–2020 in a tertiary medical center. Normo-ovulatory, professional athletes, ages 20–35 years were recruited from The Wingate Institute—the Israeli National Institute for Sport Excellence. They had high International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ) scores. Non-physically active women, matched by age and body mass index, were recruited from hospital staff. Women were evaluated for ovarian reserve markers on day 2–5 of the menstrual cycle, including follicular stimulating hormone, antral follicle count, anti-Mullerian hormone and Inhibin B. Results: The average age of the high physical activity group was 29.9 ± 4.2 years and the nonactive group 31.6 ± 4.2 years (p = 0.062). Body mass index of both groups were similar (22.5 ± 5.0 vs. 21.4 ± 2.5, respectively; p = 0.1). No differences were observed with respect to follicle stimulating hormone (p = 0.12) and anti-Mullerian hormone (p = 0.16). A trend towards higher total antral follicle count in the high physical activity group vs. the non-active group (34.5 ± 12.9 vs. 28.1 ± 15.2, p = 0.08) and lower Inhibin B (68.1 ± 36.8 vs. 89.4 ± 46.1, p = 0.05). Menarche age correlated with anti-Mullerian hormone (r = 0.387, p = 0.003), as did total antral follicle count (r = 0.368, p = 0.004). IPAQ scores and basal follicle stimulating hormone levels were negatively correlated (r = − 0.292, p = 0.005). Conclusions: Athletic, normo-ovulatory women have ovarian reserves that are at least as good as those of the general population. As this is the first study examining this issue, it could cautiously reassure women engaged in high physical activity regarding ovarian reserve.

Original languageEnglish
Article number107
JournalJournal of Ovarian Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022


  • Anti-Mullerian hormone
  • Antral follicle count
  • Athletes
  • Follicle stimulating hormone
  • High physical activity
  • Ovarian reserve


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