In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) is one of the most popular, and most effective, procedures for couples that are struggling in their journey to expand or start their families.
If you have already determined with your physician that IVF is right for you, preparation is essential to maximize your chances of success.
Here’s a list of things you should consider to make the most of your treatment and maximize your chance of having a healthy pregnancy and baby.
Providing as much information as possible at your initial consultation and pre-treatment appointments will help your physician customize a plan for you. It’s essential to always keep an open dialogue with your physician about your journey. Discuss with your physician your detailed medical history that includes medical and lifestyle factors that may affect conception.
Make sure you cover all of these points because they will influence the decisions your physician will make to determine your best possible treatment:Details about past pregnancy attempts.Medical conditions you or your partner may have.
Weight, diet, medications, lifestyle, stress level, exercise routines, previous fertility tests or treatments.For women: any sexual problems, menstrual history, family history of infertility.For men: any sexual problems, history of the previous conception, family history of infertility, surgery, or recurring infections.
Comprehensive testing is required for both you and your partner before beginning IVF to help maximize your chances for success and healthy pregnancy. Examinations may include:General blood test: Before starting IVF, the woman’s blood type should be verified, and she should be screened for conditions that could affect the health of a pregnancy.Tests for infection: Infectious disease is a possible cause of infertility. Doctors may use urine, blood, stool, or other types of tests to screen you and your partner for such diseases.Ovarian reserve assessment: As women age, they have a decreased ability to conceive and an increased risk of miscarriage. Ovarian reserve testing tries to measure egg quality, quantity, and reproductive potential.Semen testing: A semen sample is required to determine if the male partner suffers from abnormally shaped sperm, low sperm count or low motility.A uterine cavity examination: The uterus is usually evaluated before IVF. Three methods can be used: a hysterosalpingogram, a saline infusion sonohysterography or hysteroscopy.
Work on your health
When you’re trying to conceive, all you need is one good egg, so it’s important to remember that “egg quality” is directly affected by outside factors. Everything you do affects your eggs, and as you age and you are exposed to more environmental toxins, the more likely they are to be abnormal.
However, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t ways to keep your eggs healthy as you age. The secret lies in working to improve your overall health and keeping your body as pristine as possible.
Three to six months prior to IVF you should:
Improve your sleep: The quality and quantity of sleep influences sex hormones, sperm production, and ovulation. Therefore, it’s crucial to make sure you and your partner are getting enough good quality sleep, especially leading up to an IVF cycle.
Quit smoking and alcohol consumption: Nicotine ages the ovaries, damages the eggs as they develop in the ovaries and makes eggs resistant to fertilization. Also, any alcohol consumed during an IVF cycle reduces its chance of success.
Improve your diet: Cut down on sugar, caffeine and highly processed foods. Drink plenty of water and increase your intake of antioxidants, Omega 3s, and vegetables that are rich in iron and protein.
Take vitamin supplements: Our cells are made up of what nutrients are available, and the largest cells in a woman’s body are her eggs. Therefore by taking a high-quality prenatal supplement, you are directly affecting the quality of your eggs and improving the fertile environment of your body. Be sure to discuss this with your physician as he will recommend the best supplements for you.
Manage your stress: Lower levels of stress indicate higher IVF success. Make sure to manage your stress by slowing down your lifestyle pace and getting involved in de-stressing activities. Try meditating, practicing yoga, reading, or taking long walks.
Get surrounded by the right people: Seek out people who can support you emotionally during this sometimes stressful process. Stay close to family and friends who understand what you are going through and are willing to be there for you. Sometimes it’s hard to find others in your “real life” who are living this experience and who can relate to what you are going through yourself. So if you are looking for more personal, first-hand accounts of what IVF would be like, there are many blogs and online forums where others write and record their journeys and are willing to share it for the benefit of all going through IVF.