The IVF process is an expensive and stressful time for everyone, it comes at you on multiple levels, physically, well there are alot of drugs, emotionally, in my experience very few couples actually want to do IVF and theres the massive financial burden….
So I put together a few tips and ideas that I have learnt over the years.. Every clinic will give you their success rates, going from 33% to 55%, and usually will link them to your own personal fertility issues such as Male Factor, Endometriosis, PCOS, Age etc. However, the agreed success rate is 40% with most clinics.
We are not going to be able to double your chances with these steps There is a concept called Kaizen, improving yourself every day by 1%, and after 3 months, well your a new person. 🙂 So look at every step as increasing your chances by one or two little percent to enhance your fertility. So the more steps you can achieve the greater the percentage you will gain.
Step 1 – Detox
A detox can be a really good way to get your body back into balance and ready for the IVF journey. Getting rid of all those toxins you have build up in your body over the years. The best way to start is to speak with a local specialist, you can usually find helpful information on detoxifying in most good Health Food stores or with your local Nutritionalist. This normally will last two to three days. It’s also important to remember that you don’t need to turn everything upside down here.
Take a few nuggets of wisdom. You don’t suddenly need to go wheat free, dairy free, vegan over night. Just make a few changes for breakfast, a few for lunch. And a little treat for you once and a while. That one cup of coffee is not a contraceptive….. it wont stop you from getting pregnant.
Step 2 – Nutrition:
A well balanced diet will absolutely help your chances of success, try and prepare this at least 3 months before the transfer, take part in the fertility diet to enhance your reproductive organs and ensure good quality blood supply to the uterus. Good quality blood supply to the uterus increases protein and nutrient secretion around implantation, which your embryos will love. Again, this is all about make a few positive changes here and there, don’t turn your world upside down.
Get your partner on the Sperm Diet, IVF fertilisation rates increase with good quality sperm, so better sperm will give you better fertilisation rates and better embroys on the day of transfer. This actually has turned out to be harder than I expected over the years. But its defo worth a shot. 🙂
Step 3 – Acupuncture:
Acupuncture is now, without a doubt, one of the best ways to enhance your success rates, it will, reduce your stress, enhance your ovarian function, and increase blood supply to your reproductive organs. Again three months of acupuncture before your transfer will be a great support to you. I have been a Fertility Acupuncturist for over 16 years, having helped over 3,500 couples to get pregnant, crazy when you think about it.
Plan an acupuncture treatment on the morning of transfer and one for the afternoon, this is the most important part of your acupuncture treatment. Studies have shown that women who had acupuncture before and after embryo transfer had a 44% success rate per cycle compared to 29% amongst those who did not. Book a session for five days after your transfer and then five to seven days after that session.
Other therapies such as reflexology, hypnotherapy, yoga, or massage can also help. The best advice I can give here is to not get over worried about the pre and post acupuncture. I get calls daily with patients freaking out that they cant get the pre and post session done the same day. That is now an out dated approach, get one or two sessions before transfer one the week of transfer and then one for the 2 week wait. In my experience, all 16 years, this works far better than the pre and post protocol.
Step 4 – Continue having Sex:
Random video above on the IVF cycle, important to know it…. But its also important to remember how many people get pregnant the month before they start their IVF. The feel-good factor and endorphin buzz produced by regular sexual intercourse can really help to alleviate stress, it can help you as a couple to communicate in the stressful week coming up to your IVF. All too often sex is the first thing to go on this journey, its so important to keep the fun in your relationship.
Step 5 – For Women:
Take a good quality multi-vitamin and mineral supplement which contains vitamins A, B, E and C complex, zinc, magnesium, selenium, iron and Co-enzyme Q10 which play a vital role in the fertilisation and implantation process. Essential fatty acids are vitally important Wheat Grass to keep your FSH in check and Royal Jelly to nourish your egg quality.
Finally Folic acid, make sure you are getting enough folic acid in your everyday diet as research shows this prevents neural tube defects, such as spina bifida. I think also finding an IVF buddy can be so beneficial, someone that gets it, someone that gets you. knows when to leave you be, knows when to give you a hug. So if you have one, cherish them.
Step 6 – PLAN FOR THE 2 WEEK WAIT
With everything thats going on during your IVF, we sometime forget what we are going to do after transfer. The dreaded 2 week wait. WELL. We have a different angle. Are we right. We’ love to hear your thoughts….
Step 7 – For Men:
Keep your man cool. The testicles should be a couple of degrees below core temperature, so refrain from jacuzzis, hot baths, steam rooms and long distant cycling. All have been shown to lower sperm quality. Get him drinking water, lots of water, up to 2 litres a day. Dehydration is one of the big culprits that effects sperm quality.
A good multi vitamin is really important to ensure he has all the nutrients required for good quality sperm. Speaking with a qualified nutritionalist would be preferential, however here are a list of some of the common supplements advised, if your partner is on medication it would be important for him to check these with his doctor.
Unfortunately, for some weird reason, men are not really part of the IVF equation, except for providing a sperm sample, they dont have to do much except provide that cup of sperm. Interestingly, in 16 years I have never had a male doctor tell another man that he was infertile, even though all cases of infertility, 50% of the time are due to male factor infertility. 16 years…… they are told it only takes 1…… sorry dudes it takes a minimum of 15 million…. yes I use the word minimum….
Anti-oxidants -Free radicals (which float around the body and damage other cells), said to be responsible for 40 percent of sperm damage.
Amino Acids – The building blocks of life. Necessary for egg and sperm production.
Vitamin A – Essential for the production of male sex hormones.
Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) – Together with zinc, B6 is essential for the formation of male sex hormones
Vitamin B12 – Low levels can cause abnormal sperm production, reduced sperm counts, and reduced motility.
Vitamin C – An antioxidant that prevents damage from free radicals.
Vitamin E – may help the sperm penetrate the egg.
Selenium – It is needed to properly shape sperm and to maintain count.
Manganese – Deficiency may cause testicular degeneration, congenital malformations, sterility, low sex drive, low sperm count.
Zinc – It is needed for testosterone metabolism, testicle growth, sperm production, motility, count, reducing excess estrogen in male reproductive tissue.
Coenzyme Q10 – Important for energy production. Fertilization rates may rise when taking this supplement. It also improves blood flow.
Step 8 – Exercise
Exercise is an important factor during the IVF Cycle, A woman’s body mass index (BMI) should ideally be between 20 and 25. If it is too high its going to have an effect on your hormone levels. Exercise is a wonderful tool to manage stress. You have head from the clinics that IVF stands a better chance of working if you’re not seriously underweight. Speak to a nutritionists or fitness therapists and see how they can help you lose weight slowly and gradually.
Once you have started the IVF cycle avoid strenuous exercise, keep it nice and gentle. No Pilates or Push ups as these can sometimes effect the lining of the uterus. During Down Regulation your reproductive system is shutting down to prepare for IVF. It’s very important to rest the mins and body during this time. If you like to exercise. exercise, but bring it down to 80%, so if you run 10k, run 8…. if you swim 50 lengths, now swim 30 lengths…. but also if you don’t exercise, don’t force yourself into training for a marathon, just get out, get into nature, get some fresh air….. don’t be training for a marathon.
Step 9 – Talk to each other:
You don’t need me to tell you how men just can’t communicate how they feel. It’s a fact. But believe me they do feel as much as you feel on this journey. Whereas we like to express our feelings men will suppress. One of my male patients once told me that sometimes when he came home he felt his wife would be waiting for him like an emotional freight train at the door, she’d get it out, he’d run to the garage or computer room to his man cave to have a think about it and come back to her 20 minutes later and try and talk about it.
And each time she’d say that was 20 minutes ago, I’m fine now. Men need time to process and sometimes they may look like they don’t care or seem distant but they do care, they have to go to their man caves to process the emotion. However for us, we express and it leaves us.
So the next time your darling husband goes to his man cave to process, let him be, and when he comes back, engage in what he has to say. You’ll be shocked at what you will hear. I have gotten into such much trouble over time by racing into my man cave mind…. its safe in their, but eventually I do come back out. It took me a couple of years to explain this to my partner, and once I did she was like , ah ok, I get it. cool…. all I needed to do was explain my weirdness to her…
Step 10 – Smoking and Alcohol
Smoking has a very serious impact on your reproductive health. For men it reduces the sperm count and affects quality of the sperm, having a big impact on conception. Studies show it may also be a cause for miscarriage
For women smokers, the effect ages the eggs and affects the womb lining, reducing the chances of pregnancy and increasing the risk of miscarriage.
Ideally both partners should avoid alcohol completely. Alcohol in excessive amounts effects sperm quality. Studies have shown a lower pregnancy rate for couples where the man drank more than 10 units per week. And do remember, hydration is so so important for you body, as the medication you are taking is very strong. So give you body a chance to deal with it.
Step 11 – Egg Collection and Transfer Day
Keep your abdomen nice and warm up to and before egg collection. Eat warm nourishing foods, like soups and porridge in the morning. Rest as much as you can and get to bed early. This really helps to keep the cortisol levels down. And yes there are some amazing meditations in the MindfulIVF app for this time in the cycle.
After transfer, rest for a minimum of two to three days. Implantation take 2-3 days to complete so give your embryos every possible chance to implant. Don’t feel guilty about taking time off, everything will still be there in two weeks.
Here is a talk I did recent for ‘improving the chances of an IVF Cycle working’ to Doctors. All my knowledge in 15 minutes… 🙂 And do let us know if we can help in any way.
In Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture the Kidneys are key to conception and they are most active between 5pm and 7pm, so try and relax around these times during the IF Journey. The Kidneys also support your baby during pregnancy so its important to continue taking it easy during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.
Try to spend 10 minutes every morning and evening visualising what is happening inside your body, visualising the transferred embryos and all of the amazing work happening in your body.
The most important step is to look at the preparation of your fertile body and fertile mind for this up coming journey, a journey to create life , a journey to allow your baby to choose you as parents.
We have amazing success rates in our clinic when our patients use our meditation and mindfulness program on the day of their transfer. We have tested it in a number of IVF clinics and all have continued to use it with their patients…..
Mindfulness is a wonderful way of getting your stress levels down.
And you know here Im going to have a shamless plug for our app, One of my favourite recommendations to help our patients during their IVF cycle to deal with Stress is ‘Mindful IVF’
You can download the IOS App on the iTunes App store here:
or if you are using an Android phone:
The App has over modules to help you through each stage of your IVF cycle. Helping you through each of the days of your IVF cycle from Down regulation, stimulation to Egg collection, its like a little IVF Coach in your phone to keep you in balance through your IVF cycle.
So give it a try. It’s my Number 1 Tip of the week. And there are now some other amazing meditations on the app for you.
The clinics will do everything in their power to get you to transfer, that is their goal, and once they have done that, their job is done, then its up to you.
Once you have left the clinic you are by definition pregnant, you’ve seen the transfer happen, you’ve seen the embryos, whether it be on a day three or blastocysts transfer, when you leave the clinic, enjoy the moment.