If you have recently started an IVF cycle, or you are preparing to do so, knowing what you need to do when and in what amounts can be a daunting task. Thankfully, this guide can help you break down the best way to approach the IVF cycle from the outset
The IVF Process
First, you’re going to want to get prepared for the IVF process in earnest. Before you begin IVF treatment itself, there is a period of a couple weeks in which you’ll first want to get your body and affairs in order. That means making necessary changes to your lifestyle to optimize your health and, thus, the likelihood of becoming pregnant. These steps can include:
- Monitoring your menstrual cycle so as to ensure that it aligns most favorably with your scheduled IVF treatments. This means that you’ll want the first day of your IVF cycle to come as close as possible to the date of your period.
- Following that, you’ll begin taking fertility drugs so as to stimulate your ovaries. This can help ensure increased egg production.
- You will then be able to receive an injection of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), which can increase the odds and frequency of eggs successfully releasing. This takes about 36 hours, after which time a doctor will be able to perform a procedure to retrieve the eggs.
- At this stage, the eggs will be ready for fertilization. In addition, you will begin to take progesterone, which can help ensure that your uterus remains viable throughout the pregnancy so as to reduce the chances of your suffering a miscarriage.
- A few days after this egg retrieval and fertilization process has been carried out, you will be ready to have the now-viable embryo moved and transplanted into your uterus. Following this, tests will typically be conducted to ensure that the embryo has indeed been safely implanted.
Before and during the IVF cycle, it is important that you maintain a healthy lifestyle, one of the most important components of which is ensuring that you maintain a healthy diet. Eating meals which are healthy and balanced is of the utmost importance here. At the same time, however, you don’t want to make any radical dietary changes.
The Mediterranean Diet
One of the most popular dietary moves for couples looking to improve their IVF rate is the Mediterranean diet. Foods involved in this diet include:
- Fruits and fresh veggies
- Fish and poultry
- Whole grains
- Low-fat products, especially when it comes to dairy products
- Olive oil
- Things to avoid include red meat, sugar, salt, refined grains, and highly-processed foods
One’s diet can also impact the health of sperm, so it might be worthwhile for your partner to follow the diet if possible, as well.
It’s vital to strike a balance between exercise and not disrupting fertility factors when following an IVF cycle. As such, heavy-duty runs are generally a poor idea. Better options include:
- Light hiking
- Treadmills and ellipticals
Chemicals, Medicines, and Products to Avoid
Certain chemicals and products can inhibit your fertility. You will, thus, want to be wary of:
- Certain types of cosmetics, such as nail polish, moisturizers, certain types of soap
- Brominated flame retardants
- Items containing Phthalates, including cosmetics with strong fragrances
In addition, you’ll also want to be wary of any medications which may interfere with the effectiveness of your fertility drugs or otherwise negatively impact your body’s hormone regulation system. This includes everyday items such as allergy medication, Tylenol, and other over the counter medicines. In addition, you’ll want to talk to your doctor if you are taking anti-inflammatory medications, medication for depression or other mental health conditions, steroids to treat conditions such as lupus and asthma, anti-seizure medications, medication for your thyroid, certain skin treatments, and chemotherapy medication. Also, while you can drink alcohol in moderation, you’ll want to moderate this carefully.
In addition, you’ll want to take supplements such as folic acid. This vitamin can be hugely beneficial, protecting against issues such as brain and spinal defects as your embryo develops towards the fetal stage. They can also help improve your partner’s sperm health. Other supplements to take before your IVF cycle include fish oil and, if your levels are a bit low, extra vitamin D. In addition, while it isn’t a medical “supplement” per se, you’ll want to supplement your regular sleep schedule if you don’t normally get much sleep, with seven to eight hours being the sweet spot. Some sleep tips include:
- Cooling your bedroom temperature
- Taking a warm shower or bath right before you head to bed
- Avoiding caffeine and food a few hours before bed
- Limit your use of screens before bed
- Try a little light stretching before bed
IVF and Sex
Ironically, while it’s geared towards increasing fertilization, IVF means limits on sex itself during the treatment. While amorous contact is perfectly fine, you’ll want to be sure that things are not too “rigorous” so as to cause penetration or ejaculation which can upset the delicate balance and timetable of the process.
Managing IVF symptoms
IVF can, like any other medical treatment, cause side effects. Some points to note:
- Call your doctor if you bleed or spot during your cycle
- While light bleeding after an egg is retrieved is normal, heavy flow is not
- You should not use tampons
- Contact your doctor if you experience excessive period pain
- Contact your doctor if you experience gastrointestinal issues, which can sometimes be remedied by stool softeners, electrolyte drinks, or tablets
- Nausea and headaches can be managed by certain medications, but you’ll first want to ask your doctor if they are safe for you to take
Some ways your partner can increase your chances of conceiving include:
- Their offering emotional support
- Their offering help with daily chores
- Their maintaining a healthy diet
- Contrary to popular belief, there is no major difference between boxers or briefs in relation to sperm quality
Above all, practice good self care. Some poignant tips in this respect include:
- Taking it easy
- Practice slow breathing regimens
- Taking naps
- Practicing safe low-impact yoga
- Wear clothing that’s light and breathes well
- Stay in cool well air conditioned or fanned spaces
- Stay hydrated
- Enjoy low-impact swimming or walking
- Indulge yourself with a few favorite snacks or a new book
- Try a massage or pedicure to relieve stress
Whether you’re seeking IVF treatment in Bangkok, Berlin, Boston, or beyond, these tips can help make the IVF process more understandable and, hopefully, fruitful.