Fertility treatments can be emotionally and physically taxing, so it’s important to ensure each cycle of treatment has the highest chance of success possible. If you are going through the process of in vitro fertilization (IVF), there are certain things you can do before and during the treatment to increase your chances of getting pregnant.
The earlier you start preparing the better. If you can wait three to six months to start treatment, that is recommended, but if you only have a month or two to prepare, then you can make some changes in that time period as well. In addition to working closely with your doctor, you can use this guide to learn how to prepare for successful IVF treatment.
If you are already pursuing IVF with a fertility doctor, then you have already completed this step. Otherwise, the first thing you need to do to prepare for IVF is to have a comprehensive medical exam and any necessary fertility tests. Your partner will need to be examined and tested as well. These exams are used to determine whether or not you are a good candidate for IVF and can include:
– Ovarian reserve testing
– Semen analysis
– Uterine cavity examination
– Infectious disease screening
Quit Unhealthy Habits
Before you even trying to get pregnant, via IVF or otherwise, you should quit smoking. Smoking is not only bad for your overall health, it can affect your fertility and impact the success of IVF. Smoking affects sperm and egg quality. It’s also dangerous to a fetus after you are pregnant. So it’s best to quit as soon as possible, and definitely before actively trying to have a baby.
Drinking alcohol has also been linked to lower IVF success rates, so it should be avoided. This applies to both partners. It is possible to drink in moderation during the process, but the possible negative effects might not be worth it. Sometimes alcohol does not mix well with fertility drugs and studies have shown a decrease in live births in couples who had four or more drinks per week. Try to abstain during the process, and definitely after the embryo transfer.
Get to a Healthy Weight
Obesity can affect pregnancy rates, increases the risk of miscarriage and may result in poorer outcomes with in vitro fertilization (IVF). Increased BMI can also affect whether it is safe for you to undergo anesthesia or conscious sedation, which are necessary for the IVF process.
On the other end of the spectrum, being underweight is also detrimental to fertility. Talk to your doctor about what a healthy weight is for you and work on a diet and exercise plan to get you there before you start trying to get pregnant. Not only will it make your chances of IVF success higher, but it reduces the risk of complications once you are pregnant.
Get the Right Nutrients
Make sure you are getting proper nutrition through your diet. A healthy diet can make a huge difference in overall health and will help prepare your body for IVF. A good plan to follow includes:
– Lots of fruit and vegetables (preferably fresh)
– Lean protein (poultry & fish)
– Whole grains (quinoa & farro)
– Healthy fats (nuts, seeds, avocado, olive oil)
– Legumes (beans, lentils, chickpeas, etc.)
– Low-fat dairy
While adding these foods to your diet, you should cut out refined sugars and grains, processed foods, salt, and red meat.
Supplement with a Prenatal Vitamin
Also, supplements are recommended to increase your intake of key nutrients during the IVF cycle. Prenatal vitamins are a good choice to ensure you get enough folic acid which is critical to the development of the brain and spinal cord). Other supplements that might be beneficial are vitamin D and fish oil supplements with healthy fatty acids. But be sure to ask your doctor for recommendations on the best supplements to take, as the USDA does not regulate over the counter supplements.
Certain medications can interfere with fertility treatments. To avoid any adverse interactions, give your doctor a complete list of all medications you take. This should include both the prescriptions you take, supplements, and over-the-counter medication like pain relievers or allergy medication.
Getting the right amount of sleep is crucial for overall health and is therefore important to fertility. So if you want to prepare for a successful IVF treatment, you should start getting between 7-9 hours of sleep each night. While most people struggle with getting enough sleep, getting too much can be a problem as well.
Tweak Your Workout Routine
You don’t need to stop working out during IVF treatment if you have an established routine. The exception to that rule may be reducing the amount of running you do. Running can affect the amount of blood that gets to the uterus and alter the thickening of the uterine lining. Doctors recommend running no more than 15 miles in a week, and replacing runs with hiking, spinning, using the elliptical, and some light jogging.
Take Care of Mental Health
Because any fertility treatment can be an emotional and overwhelming process, this is one of the most difficult steps for many people. However, it is an important thing to do when preparing for IVF because stress can hurt the chances of success. Try mindfulness exercises, acupuncture, journaling, guided meditation, or a stress-free hobby to take your mind off the process and decrease anxiety. If you think it might help, talk therapy can also be useful to sort feelings out and learn how to deal with them in a healthy way. Be sure to check out our list of resources for those trying to conceive.
Make an Appointment
We provide our patients with guidance and support while using the latest advanced reproductive technologies, including IVF. If you have questions or concerns about how to make the most of your IVF treatments, we are here to help. To make an appointment, call our Triad offices at 336-448-9100 or our Charlotte office at 844-686-2233. You can also request an appointment online.