Preparing for IVF: Dos and don’ts

Infertility causes mental and physical stress for millions of men and women. Many couples and individuals in Minnesota are consumed with disappointment and feelings of inadequacy over being unable to have a traditional pregnancy and may suffer from the undeserving stigma attached.

Those pressures have subsided considerably with the growth of assisted reproductive technology (ART), helping many to conceive and grow their families in non-traditional ways with medical intervention. One of the most popular methods is in vitro fertilization (IVF). This procedure can be costly with no guarantee of success, but experts say your chances greatly improve by knowing how to prepare.

Things to do

July 25 was World IVF Day, marking the procedure’s progress. In light of that occasion, experts offer advice to those considering the procedure. It can take three to six months to prepare mentally and physically for IVF. Here are a few tips from those experts:

  • Diet: Some foods are believed to enhance fertility. These include eggs, seeds, nuts, fish, whole grains, oysters and sprouts. Stay hydrated by drinking 50 to 70 ounces of water per day.
  • Exercise: During an IVF cycle, the ovaries are more vulnerable. Avoid intense aerobic activity, especially towards the end of the process. Gentle exercise, such as walking, light jogging or cycling is recommended.
  • Sleep: Proper sleep nourishes the body and reduces stress. Find a bedtime routine that helps you unwind, such as reading, meditation or a relaxing shower. Avoid electronics right before going to bed, don’t drink caffeine and stop eating three to six hours before turning in.
  • Supplements: Taking vitamins and other nutritional products is crucial before and during IVF. Taking folic acid at least a month before the procedure protects fetuses against congenital disabilities. Others include vitamin D, antioxidants such as Coenzyme Q10, zinc and selenium.
  • Avoid stress: Easier said than done, right? The procedure can be stressful by itself, but, in addition to getting adequate sleep at night, try activities such as yoga, easy listening music, and walking as a way to stay chill.

Things not to do

A lot of the “dos” are plain old common sense. Likewise, the don’ts may sound familiar. However, according to those same experts, these are especially vital for those undergoing IVF, among others:

  • Do not drink or smoke
  • Avoid household items with endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs), things like plastic, cosmetics, nail polish and non-stick cookware
  • Avoid certain prescribed and over-the-counter drugs, but talk to your fertility doctor first
  • Avoid unnecessary travel after an embryo transfer takes place
  • Stay away from the internet regarding IVF as common and misleading misinformation can raise stress levels
  • While it’s usually safe to have sex during the first stage of IVF, avoid it toward the end

Partners have a vital role before and during

There are physical and psychological choices by which partners can contribute to a successful IVF procedure. For men, doctors say drinking alcohol can lead to reduced sleep, which affects sperm quality and testosterone levels. Additionally, partners can greatly reduce stress on those undergoing the procedure. Examples would be to support your partner by picking up more of the daily workload, such as cooking, cleaning, and laundry. A woman’s partner can also help give shots, keep her up to date with medications and supplements, and help manage appointments. The best way to help is just being generally supportive and affectionate. It takes two for a successful process.