IVF is a new reality for many couples now. About 1 in 8 women need this extra help in getting pregnant. But it is not a guarantee of pregnancy. While success rates have increased in recent years, many couples still face crushing disappointment after an IVF cycle. So it makes sense to do everything in your power to maximize your chances of conceiving during an IVF cycle.
What exactly is IVF?
In short, IVF (in vitro fertilization) is where an egg is combined with sperm outside the body (in vitro). It essentially means removing eggs from the woman’s body, fertilizing them with sperm in a lab, and returning them to implant in the womb once fertilized. To increase the success rate, a woman’s body is treated with hormone injections to produce multiple eggs during an ovulation cycle.
IVF is not just emotionally and financially demanding, but also physically. Emotions will run high, from anxiety, sadness, uncertainty, to even anger that you are having to endure this intervention when other women seem to have no struggle. And, physically your body will be intensely bombarded with hormones for 2 weeks.
So what can you do to make sure your body and mind is healthy and strong for this process, to improve the chances of success.
Before we look at some tips, it is important to remember, IVF involves a man and a woman. It is sometimes forgotten that it is not only the woman in the couple who has to follow a healthy lifestyle for a successful IVF cycle. To ensure healthy sperm, it is important for men to improve their diet and lifestyle as well to boost the chances of an IVF pregnancy.
How to Increase Your Chances of IVF Success
- Maintain a healthy weight. Eat clean healthy dood
- Optimize sperm health.
- Partner with an excellent doctor.
- Reduce your stress.
- No smoking, reduce alcohol and caffeine
- Take supplements. … The TLC Turbo Boost is a excellent option. Ensure you are getting at least 400 to 600 mcg Folic Acid per day.
- Ensure you have adequate levels of vitamin D. …
- Focus on persistence and patience.
- Be kind to yourself
Let’s look at some specifics….
Your diet during IVF is important.
A diet that is low in saturated fat and high in protein, iron, magnesium, calcium and potassium is important. Leafy greens, fruits and vegetables are ideal. Foods that are considered especially good for boosting fertility are avocados, eggs, nuts, and foods high in omega-3 fatty acids like salmon. Avoiding foods high in sugar, processed and hydrogenated foods is advisable. Also avoid foods like high-mercury fish and soft cheeses.
-Eat clean, avoiding processed foods, sugars, and junk food.
-Eat fresh fruits and vegetables. Always wash them properly to avoid chemicals.
-Choose lean proteins, like fish and poultry.
-Eat healthy fats, such as avocado, extra-virgin olive oil, nuts, and seeds.
-Avoid red meat and refined grains.
-Cut out salt. Flavor food with herbs and spices instead.
-A diet like TLC will assist the body in balancing and stabilizing hormones to assist the process.
If you have a healthy body mass index (BMI), have been exercising, and have a healthy womb, you can keep exercising. However, it is best to not overdo it. The best exercise during an IVF cycle is walking or light exercise. Something like yoga is also excellent to help with the stress and anxiety.
Caution: Avoid excessive running. It can have negative effects on the thickening of the womb lining and shift blood away from the womb to other organs and muscles when the reproductive system needs it most.
If you’re a keen runner, replace your long runs with:
- light jogging
- the elliptical
Sleep and fertility are closely connected. Getting the right amount of sleep can support your IVF cycle.
Stop smoking, drinking alcohol and reduce your intake of caffeine:
Nicotine can age ovaries and also make eggs resistant to fertilisation, never mind the damage it can do to an unborn foetus if your IVF is successful. Consuming alcohol during an IVF cycle has been known to reduce the chance of it being successful by up to 50% therefore it’s a no-brainer that alcohol should be completely avoided prior to and during IVF. A high intake of caffeine can also have an adverse impact on an IVF cycle therefore is best avoided or limiting yourself to a maximum of 2 cups of coffee a day.
Consider tossing or avoiding some household items made with endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs). EDCs interfere with:
- reproductive health
- prenatal development
Chemicals to avoid and where they’re found:
Parabens, triclosan, and benzophenone
BPA and other phenols
Brominated flame retardants
nonstick cooking tools
cosmetics with fragrance
Monitor Certain medications:
Some Medications may interfere with fertility drugs. It is important to tell your fertility doctor about any medications you take. Make sure to list everything, even the occasional headache OTC pill.
Some medications could potentially:
- interfere with fertility drugs
- cause hormonal imbalances
- make IVF treatment less effective
Medications to flag to your fertility doctor:
-prescription and OTC nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), like aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, Midol), and naproxen (Aleve)
-medications for depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions, like antidepressants
-steroids, like those used to treat asthma or lupus
-skin products, especially those containing estrogen or progesterone
It is essential to drink enough water, not only to keep hydrated and flush toxins, but taking in more fluids can relieve bloating. often associated with IVF treatment.
It is important to reduce stress and anxiety and take some steps to relax your body and mind. This is easier said than done, however. In reality you have been dealing with possibly years of stress and anxiety in dealing with infertility, now the hopes, fears, and expectations as well financial and physical toll of IVF can only add to that burden. In fact, IVF is often rated as more stressful or at least as stressful as other major life events such as the death of a family member or divorce. But there are ways to emotionally prepare and reduce the stress.
-Gather information. One of the best antidotes for anxiety is information and knowledge.
-Prepare for decision-making. Anticipate decisions that may need to be made during IVF, like how many embryos to transfer and what to do with any extra embryos.
-Be sure you’re in a good place emotionally and that your relationship is on solid ground before starting an IVF cycle.
-Discuss ahead of time with your partner your hopes and expectations of each other during the cycle.
-Consider joining an IVF support group.
-Make your life as simple as possible. Avoid major decisions, life changes or high-stress work and family situations.
-Have a plan for what helps you relax. Consider mindfulness meditation, deep breathing, guided imagery and yoga.
Consider Alternative therapies:
Look into alternative therapies that you can undergo prior to and during your cycle. There are many complimentary therapies now that are specifically tailored to enhancing fertility incl reflexology, acupuncture and herbal therapies.
Have Balance and Live your life:
IVF can take over your life. It is important to have some balance and ensure you do relax and have distractions:
- Socialize with friends.
- Go on a date with your partner.
- Do yoga or other gentle exercises.
- Take a long, hot bath.
- Get a massage.
- Get a pedicure or manicure.
- Read a book.
- Take a vacation day.
- Go to a movie.
- Buy yourself flowers.
- Journal and track your thoughts and feelings.
- Get a haircut or blowwave.
- Have your makeup done.
- Schedule a photo shoot to remember this time.
The role of the male partner during IVF:
The man may not carry the brunt of the IVF cycle, but he’ll give the most important sperm sample of his life. He also needs to be your emotional and physical support. So his diet, sleep patterns, and self-care are important, too.
Here is how your male partner can support your IVF efforts and ensure you’re both in this together:
-Drink less… men who drank alcohol daily contributed to the reduced success of the cycle.
-No smoking, weed or tobacco
-Sleep more. Not getting enough sleep (at least 7 to 8 hours per night) can affect testosterone levels and sperm quality.
-Avoid chemicals… some chemicals and toxins also wreak havoc on hormones in men. This may lower sperm quality. Toss harmful products and keep your home as toxin-free as possible.
-Eat well and exercise. A lower BMI and good overall nutrition can improve the quality of sperm collected during IVF.
-Be supportive. The most important thing your partner can do is be there for you. He can help with shots, comfort and make you feel secure, be proactive about pain medication, manage appointments, and pick up the slack. In short: Be the loving, supportive person you fell in love with.
COVID-19: Is it safe to have IVF now?
Because COVID-19 has only been around for a short time, it’s hard to know how it might affect people’s fertility, and the health of pregnant women and their babies. However, based on the latest evidence:
-fever associated with COVID-19 can affect sperm quality for about three months, so may temporarily reduce fertility
-pregnant women are not more likely to get infected by the coronavirus than other women, nor are they at higher risk for severe illness
-women who become seriously ill with COVID-19 in late pregnancy are more likely than other pregnant women to deliver their babies prematurely
-after birth, transmission of COVID-19 from mother to child has been reported, but there has been no indication these infants have any significant problems.
Always follow safety protocols, wear a mask and wash your hands. It is important to protect yourself from contracting the disease as fertility treatments cannot be provided to women who test positive for COVID-19 until all symptoms have cleared.
Finally, preparing for and getting through IVF will likely be one of the most challenging experiences of your life. Whilst every cycle can take a huge toll on your body and mind, it is worth committing 100% to every round as that could very well be the round that results in that longed-for baby. Starting to take care of yourself early and often is essential and can make all the difference.
Most importantly throughout the whole process… Be kind to yourself.