Like many patients, you may feel that the success or failure of your IVF procedure is mainly down to the competence of the clinic and, to some extent, the “luck of the draw”.
In actual fact, nothing could be further from the truth and whilst acknowledging the undeniable influence of the clinic and the element of good luck involved, there really is a lot you can do yourself for enhancing your fertility before IVF treatment which which can really make a difference.
Like many things in life, good preparation really matters. When it comes down to IVF, it is important to start as soon as possible. When you think about it, IVF is usually about taking over the mechanics of conception, in terms of getting the sperm to the egg and ensuring (as far as is possible) that implantation happens. Other than that, it is still crucial that the quality of the eggs and sperm is tip-top! Indeed, one of the common reasons for failure of IVF is the egg or sperm quality.
Your diet and lifestyle can impact massively on the quality of eggs and sperm. What you eat, the exercise you do, the type of lifestyle you have, your working environment and any “bad habits” will all count.
The good news is that it isn’t actually difficult to have a big impact. In an ideal world you need to begin working on this between 3 and 4 months before your procedure as it can take this long for any beneficial changes to impact upon sperm quality as initial production within the testes actually begins 3 months before ejaculation. In terms of the woman, although the eggs are already present in the ovaries from birth, there is a lot to do to improve and enhance the quality and again, the earlier you start the better.
It might even be worth delaying your IVF cycle if you know that your preparation isn’t as good as it could be. You would then have a timescale to really concentrate on ensuring that you are as ready as possible.
Enhancing Fertility Before IVF Treatment
“Feeding” the eggs with the correct nutrients is as important as watering and feeding any seeds which you grow! Maturation takes about 4 months and during this time, the undeveloped eggs are feeding on nutrients and any harmful substances from your body. The same can be said for sperm.
Simple tips revolve around foregoing substances and foods which, if you are honest, you already know are harmful. These include fast foods, coffee, smoking, alcohol, recreational drugs and many prescription and over the counter meds.
You should also refrain from vigorous exercise as this can inhibit fertility, especially in females. However, that is not to say that you should not exercise as regular moderate exercise is recommended, with suitable forms being walking, yoga, gentle swimming and stretching. For males, although the intensity is not as crucial, men should avoid doing extensive periods of cycling and visiting the hot tub after the gym as excessive heat can damage sperm.
A good diet coupled with a pre-natal supplement (for both men and women) can help with enhancing fertility before IVF treatment. You should eat a healthy diet, including plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, wholegrains, beans, nuts and seeds. Lean, healthy meat is also good when preparing for conception as is full fat dairy produce. You should ensure that the foods you eat are organic as this minimizes your exposure to pesticides. One good rule of thumb is to eat foods which are in their original form as far as possible before you cook them, meaning that you should avoid processed foods or those with additives and preservatives.
With regard to supplements, there are many good quality tablets available and you could consider asking your IVF professional what she would recommend.
Your state of mind is also a factor to be considered. Some research indicates that people who consider themselves to be “stressed” have a reduced level of fertility and this is thought to be due to the fact that the stress hormone, Cortisol, can be a hormone disruptor. Therefore, practice relaxation techniques and try, if possible, to remove stressful situations from your everyday life.
Of course, your doctor will no doubt tell you that no amount of preparing yourself for IVF treatment and the skill at the clinic can guarantee a successful pregnancy. However, doctors do agree that good preparation can indeed help in enhancing your fertility before IVF, thus at least increasing your odds significantly.