Preceding our first IVF cycle we were asked to attend an information evening at our fertility clinic (not abc ivf) where we were crammed into a room with approximately 20 other couples and the Clinical Lead from the Fertility Centre presented PowerPoint slides on what exactly our cycle would entail. It didn’t help that I was full of the cold at the time and my head was absolutely banging, but I can confidently say that when we left that meeting I have never felt so overwhelmed in my life. Rather than a couple of appointments at the clinic, a few injections, a minor procedure followed by a pregnancy test with hopefully a positive result, we suddenly realised that IVF was going to take over our lives. We felt so naive.
The best thing we felt to do was throw ourselves into the world of IVF and try to fill our brains with as much information as we could.
Whilst IVF is not an exact science and no-one can ever guarantee that your cycle will have the desired outcome, going into IVF as prepared as you can gives yourself the best possible chance of success.
Ideally you want to give yourself a minimum of 3-6 months to start preparing your body for the IVF cycle however, even if you have less time than this, any preparation is better than nothing so do what you can with however much time you have.
What follows are my top 5 tips for preparing your body for your IVF cycle:
Eat fertility enhancing foods
My first tip is to clean up your diet and try to incorporate some fertility enhancing foods. Being underweight or overweight can seriously affect your chances of the IVF being successful therefore having a healthy BMI is important. Different fertility clinics have different guidelines but generally a BMI of between 20 and 30 is considered acceptable.
A diet that is low in 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, beans and foods high in omega-3 fatty acids like salmon as well as whole grains. Avoiding foods high in sugar, processed and hydrogenated foods is advisable. It is not recomended to start a diet of any kind, as restricting certain foods or minerals could adversely affect your treatment.
Stop smoking, drinking alcohol & reduce caffeine
My second tip to prepare your body for IVF is to stop smoking, drinking alcohol and to reduce your intake of caffeine. It is a proven fact that 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.
Invest in high-quality vitamins
Egg quality is one of the most crucial factors of an IVF cycle and can make the difference between having a successful or unsuccessful treatment round. Therefore, my third tip is to take fertility enhancing vitamins. There are many prenatal supplements available in supermarkets or high street pharmacies however it’s worth investing in a high-quality multivitamin. Your Fertility Clinic can advise you of a good choice, however at a very minimum you should be taking Folic Acid prior to and during your cycle.
Look into alternative fertility therapies
My fourth tip is to 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 and in an ideal world this could potentially stop you having to do any IVF at all! I was seeing a lady for a while who carried out Reproflexology, which is fertility-focussed Reflexology, and she has had tremendous results with ladies who have gone onto not need any fertility treatment at all. As well as this Acupuncture has been proven to have a lot of positive results where fertility enhancement is concerned. In addition complimentary therapists are usually board certified to provide you with advice on herbal remedies that can be taken alongside your therapy, such as Chinese herbs or herbal essences.
Commit to relaxation techniques
My last tip is a must-do for before, during and after an IVF cycle. And that is to reduce stress, get plenty of rest and commit to some relaxation techniques such as meditation, mindfulness or simply just breathing exercises. An IVF cycle is a very stressful, worrying and physically demanding process and whilst it is easier said than done, keeping your stress at a minimum is paramount. Personally, meditation has been a great tool for me during both my cycles and really allows you to control your breathing and focus your thoughts. During my second cycle I also downloaded a very useful mindfulness app that is specific for IVF. It provides mindfulness techniques for every stage of an IVF cycle and I felt it was very beneficial in keeping my mind balanced and positive.
I hope these tips are useful to anyone who is about to embark on an IVF cycle, whether it be your first round or tenth round. 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.
Rachel Reid - Guest Blogger
After being diagnosed with a blocked fallopian tube in August 2016, Rachel started her IVF journey. Currently 2 cycles down, 1 failed cycle, a pregnancy and a miscarriage, Rachel hopes to help other couples dealing with infertility by sharing her experiences. Rachel's blog, Our Path to Parenthood, is intended to be a real, raw and honest account of her experience as her and her partner navigate their path to parenthood.
CREATE Fertility and ABC IVF were last night recognised by the Spectator Economic Innovator of the Year Awards 2020, taking home the award for the London and South East region in recognition of our work fighting for safer and more affordable IVF treatment.
The situation we are currently in is a cause of concern for everyone, but particularly those who have had to have their fertility treatments put on hold. If you are in this situation and found that to access the things that would normally help you cope is restricted, practicing positive thinking and mindfulness could help with managing any concerns or stress you are currently dealing with.