Nutrition and IVF
Many of the couples we see have had previous IVF failures at other clinics, so it is really important that we look at every aspect that can influence the outcome before they begin a cycle with us. Other than underlying medical causes which we will investigate and develop a treatment plan for we believe that nutrition and lifestyle can have a significant impact on the success of IVF. That is why we offer a free nutrition and lifestyle assessment for anyone having IVF with us.
Many women know a lot about diet but far less about nutrition. When they first come to see us, they have often done extensive research on the internet and bought large amounts of dietary supplements as a result and sometimes gone on diets. However, everyone’s nutritional needs are different and diets very often do not help as they deplete the body of important nutrients, so it is important that we provide an informed assessment of your individual needs.
“Nutrition and Lifestyle changes do not need to be daunting – small changes can have a significant impact.” Zita West
We find that the changes are sustainable when they fit in with the rest of your lifestyle, budget, time and tastes so we take all these into account in our assessment and develop with you a practical action plan.
Nutrition for Eggs and Sperm
IVF isn’t just about getting an egg, it’s about getting a healthy mature egg. The most common questions we get asked are “what can I do to improve my eggs” and “what can I do to improve my partners sperm”.
Eggs and sperm have specific nutritional requirements when going through IVF. We want the eggs and sperm to grow in a nutrient rich environment, which means building nutrients into your diet or including supplements where necessary.
To make sure that you are creating the best environment we:
- Look at your blood sugar balance
- Test for nutritional deficiencies
- Assess lifestyle issues for anything that may be depleting you of nutrients
- Choose foods to build good levels of antioxidants
- Use specialist supplements to help in the lead up to IVF
The nutritional needs of the body for fertility and pregnancy are very different to its everyday needs. It can be extremely difficult to ensure you are getting the right amounts of the most important vitamins and minerals from food alone, which is why we recommend undertaking an appropriate supplement regime. Check out our IVF Nutritional Support Pack
As well as diet, we look at other aspects of your general health that might be having an impact on IVF success, including such conditions as PCOS, thyroid function, immune factors, and previous miscarriages and, in older women, low egg reserves.
What to Expect at a Nutrition and Lifestyle Assessment
Before your assessment, you will be asked to complete one of our clinical questionnaires, uniquely designed to provide us with important information on all aspects of your health that we believe can influence your fertility. You will also be advised to keep a 3-day food diary.
Our Nutritional consultations can help with the following key areas:
Nutrients to protect the egg and sperm
Certain types of foods can combat free radicals, which can speed up ageing of egg and sperm cells, causing chromosomal damage. This can also increase the risk of miscarriage. Free radicals can be found in certain types of food and in the environment. We often recommend a micro-nutrient test which we use to identify particular deficiencies in key nutrients and this helps us develop a nutritional plan that is easy to stick to and may include a number nutritional supplements to boost your intake of the most important nutrients for fertility. Find out more about our range of supplements
Weight Loss/Weight Gain
Being over or underweight can interrupt normal menstrual cycles and disrupt or even stop ovulation altogether. Excessive weight in men can also lead to reduced sperm counts.
Many fertility-related issues such as endometriosis, miscarriage and pre-eclampsia are now being linked to abnormal inflammation. One of the reasons obesity is such a factor in infertility is because excess fat releases inflammatory chemicals. At the clinic we look at dietary and lifestyle factors that may influence the inflammatory response and suggest advice on what can be done to minimize it.
If your immune system is weak, or even if it is too efficient in fighting of the everyday threat of infection and disease, it may affect fertility. We are seeing more and more evidence now that an abnormal immune response can affect implantation and increase the risk of multiple miscarriage.
Underlying Medical Factors
If you have undertaken tests that reveal medical issues such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), an under or overactive thyroid, anaemia or celiac disease, for example, our nutritionists can work with you to compile a plan that helps you make sure you are taking the right measures to get in the best possible nutritional health.
Most of us lead extremely busy lives, juggling hectic work schedules, family demands and social lives. Excessively stressful lifestyles can affect the reproductive system, and an increase in stress hormones can interfere with ovulation in women and sperm production in men. Many of our clients find that making just a few small changes to their diet and lifestyle can make a real difference in the way the body responds to stress by replenishing the nutrients that have been depleted as a result.
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