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11 July 2024

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How to Prepare Your Body for IVF Treatment

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IVF treatment offers a tangible path to parenthood, providing hope and renewed possibilities for those struggling with infertility. But before diving in, taking crucial steps beforehand can better your chances of pregnancy success. These proactive measures involve optimising physical and mental readiness through lifestyle adjustments and health screenings.

Adopt good lifestyle and dietary habits

Eating well is beneficial for our overall well-being, but some foods can have greater benefits for women trying to conceive.

For instance, foods that contain folic acids, vitamin B12, and omega-3 fatty acids are known for their positive impacts on fertility. Adopting a diet rich in these nutrients can boost your chances of natural conception.

Folate, a type of vitamin B vitamin often referred to as folic acid, plays an essential role in the making and repairing DNA. It is also responsible for producing red blood cells and, most importantly, the development of your child’s brain and spinal cord during pregnancy. Hence, a higher intake of folate may help to provide a better environment for a developing egg and increase your overall chances of conception.

Some food sources of folate include leafy greens (e.g., spinach, kale, broccoli, etc.), eggs, shellfish, whole grains, and more.

Love caffeine? Well, you may want to limit your intake when embarking on your fertility treatment. Studies have found that women who drink large amounts of caffeine take a longer time to become pregnant and may also have a slightly higher risk of miscarriage.

Similarly, alcohol has also been linked to lower one’s fertility, and this applies to both men and women. For women, excessive alcohol consumption can disrupt hormone levels, interfere with ovulation, and reduce the quality of their eggs. Alcohol can also affect men by impacting their sperm quality and sperm production and, in severe cases, even lead to erectile dysfunction.

Smoking can reduce fertility, making it harder to conceive. It may negatively affect hormone production and harm the reproductive system. Damaged DNA in sperm can also result from smoking.[1]

Reducing Stress with Fertility Yoga and Exercise

Does infertility cause stress, or does stress cause infertility? Either way, trying to conceive can be an anxious affair and stressful. Elevated stress levels can affect ovulation, which is key to fertility and getting pregnant[2]. Among the various exercise options for fertility, yoga stands out. 

Yoga therapy has been found to improve infertility in both men and women by enhancing overall body balance, improving reproductive functions by reducing stress, and balancing the neurohormonal profile. Although yoga itself cannot improve sperm or egg quality, it is an important part of a fertility-promoting lifestyle. 

The frequency of fertility yoga practice varies, but consistency is key. Listen to your body, start gradually, and consult a qualified instructor, especially while trying to conceive. You can combine other exercises with fertility yoga, such as brisk walking, jogging, strength training, or low-impact swimming, which also help you remain in the healthy weight range.  

Screening for infectious diseases and genetic conditions

During a fertility health screening, blood tests are conducted to check for various infectious diseases such as hepatitis B, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), and even conditions like rubella. It is important to rule out the presence of infectious diseases before embarking on IVF treatment.

Additionally, Thalassemia screening is important, particularly in Asian and Mediterranean countries, where the condition is common. An inherited blood disorder, Thalassemia is caused by an abnormal gene that does not allow a person to produce normal, functioning haemoglobin in the blood.

If both partners are Thalassemia carriers, there is a one in four chance of having a baby affected by Thalassemia major, a serious condition. Screening for Thalassemia is essential as techniques like pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) can help identify healthy embryos, reducing the risk of passing on this genetic disorder. This comprehensive approach ensures better health outcomes for couples undergoing IVF treatment.

Fertility coaching

In many cultures, infertility remains a private struggle, intensifying feelings of loneliness. Fertility coaching provides the crucial support couples need to navigate the often isolating and stressful journey of IVF. It also helps you manage IVF treatment's emotional and physical challenges, empowering both partners to navigate the journey together.

Connecting with specialised coaches before starting hormonal stimulation and embryo transfers is advisable, as it offers the relief of speaking with someone who understands their experience. Empathetic support not only eases your burden but also equips you with the knowledge to feel more in control and resilient throughout your IVF journey.

Exploring Complementary Therapies

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and acupuncture enhance fertility by balancing energy flow and addressing specific reproductive issues. Acupuncture, along with TCM herbs, promotes hormonal balance, enhances blood circulation to reproductive organs, and reduces stress, supporting natural conception and assisted reproductive technologies like IVF.

While TCM is widely used for overall health, its specific impact on fertility varies. Discuss preferences with your fertility specialist, as some therapies may interact with treatments, although specialists typically encourage steps to improve overall health.

Embarking on your IVF treatment

By understanding the steps to take and making the appropriate lifestyle modifications, prospective parents can give their fertility a boost and look forward to improved treatment outcomes, and better navigate the physical and emotional demands of IVF treatment.

Article reviewed by Dr Roland Chieng, Medical Director, Virtus Fertility Centre, in July 2024

[1] https://www.fda.gov/tobacco-products/health-effects-tobacco-use/how-smoking-affects-reproductive-health

[2] https://thrivejourney.com/blog/can-yoga-help-with-infertility/.

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