Almost one in six couple will need help for getting pregnant. A third of these couples will need some form of fertility treatment to help them in conceiving. The pregnancy rates following IVF treatment have considerably improved over the last forty years. In order to optimise your chances of conceiving, it is important that you are as well prepared as you could be when going through IVF. Dr Krishna from the London IVF and Genetics Clinic has shared these suggestions in order to give you the best possible chance, including lifestyle factors, physical health and having the right mindset at the start and during IVF. Many of these changes are ideally best addressed a couple of months prior to treatment.
No Smoking Zone
Firstly, there are many lifestyle factors such as smoking, caffeine consumption, alcohol intake, diet, body weight or BMI that can affect your chances of successful treatment. Smoking can affect both male infertility and female infertility. In women it leads to reduced ovarian reserves which can affect the quantity and quality of egg reserves. In men it can lead to low sperm count and low sperm motility. Some of these effects on male and female infertility may reverse when you have given up smoking for at least 3-6 months. Therefore giving up smoking should be a priority if you want to give yourself the very best chance of getting pregnant.
Ban The Booze
Heavy alcohol consumption or binge drinking can also influence the success rates of your IVF treatment. As such, it’s recommended that you abstain from alcohol consumption during the treatment and later if you are pregnant. If you find it difficult to abstain then you should limit alcohol intake to 1-2 units for female partner and 3-5 units for male partner.
Cut The Caffeine
Excess caffeine consumption is associated with female infertility, male infertility and increased risk of miscarriages. Consider switching to decaffeinated drinks or try to avoid caffeine altogether wherever possible.
A Balanced, Healthy Diet
Besides smoking, alcohol and caffeine, you should ensure that your diet is healthy and balanced. Despite much publicity, there is no such thing as a fertility diet. All of your meals should be able to provide the recommended daily intake of macronutrients, micronutrients and trace elements, something that’s important to prevent infertility. You should avoid consumption of high calorie junk food that lacks nutritional value. You should avoid food additives and processed food as much as is feasible. Most of the dietary changes should be introduced for at least couple of months before starting IVF. You should also avoid consumption of fizzy drinks.
All women who are trying to conceive or starting IVF treatment should take folic acid supplement during IVF and for at least 12-14 weeks of pregnancy if you are pregnant. Folic acid helps to prevent neural tube defects which are serious defects of the spinal cord or brain.
There is rise in obesity over last couple of decades. Obesity can affect IVF treatment. Hence, you should try and maintain body mass index (BMI) ideally of less than 30. Petite or Asian women should ideally maintain BMI or body mass index of between 21 and 25.
Like physical health, having the right mind set or psychological health is important. IVF treatment can be overwhelming for a variety of reasons. It is well known that stress can delay the time it takes for couples to conceive. Hence, couples should develop healthier ways of coping with day to day stress or that arising from treatment. You may think of engaging in regular exercise, pursuing hobby, counselling, practicing meditation or mindfulness.
In addition to all of these factors, men should avoid frequent exposure to hot baths, tight clothing and use of anabolic steroids or testosterone supplements. These are just some of the ways in which you can prepare yourself before IVF treatment to give yourself the very best chance of getting pregnant.