1. FIND OUT THE SUCCESS RATES OF YOUR CLINIC
You may wonder why some clinics have better success rates than others, and it’s down to how much care they take throughout the whole process, from start to finish. Every step counts; from preparation to protocols, to of course, egg collection, transfer and embryology.
2. PREP ON EVERY LEVEL
So many couples are told that IVF is stressful, exhausting and depleting. Preparing yourself for its demands and identifying strategies to manage the process can help on every level – mentally, physically and emotionally.
3. OPTIMISE EGG AND SPERM HEALTH
It takes approximately 150 days for an egg to mature within its ovarian follicle; this means there are four months during which you have an opportunity to nourish any single month’s particular crop. Some of the eggs that begin to mature will not make it to full maturity, but one – and perhaps more – will. So, your nutritional choices and your lifestyle choices may improve the quality of your eggs, but it takes time.
Men manufacture sperm all the time, which means sperm production constantly draws from their nutritional intake and lifestyle influences. The food a man eats can influence:
- The total number of sperm cells produced (sperm count)
- Their physical attributes (morphology)
- Their ability to move properly once ejaculated (motility)
- The integrity of their DNA
When we talk about ‘lifestyle’ we don’t just mean the areas of your life that are commonly associated with poor lifestyle such as smoking, drinking, lack of exercise…lifestyle is about your whole life including relationships. Stress levels, work-life balance, thoughts and emotions as well as your physical well-being. Remember that changing your lifestyle doesn’t have to be a great upheaval; small changes can pay dividends. As a couple, work through the following 8 areas and think how you can take a positive step towards improvement:
- Energy levels
- Work-life balance
- Stress levels
- Emotional health
- Activity levels
5. MANAGE YOUR STRESS LEVELS
If you’re stressed, your body goes into survival mode, shutting down non-essential processes, such as reproduction, and concentrating on the body systems that keep you alive. Nutrient absorption is hampered, hormones become imbalanced and overall your body is in a state of high alert. Take steps to reduce stress and improve relaxation in your life.
6. MAKE TIME
Related to your levels of stress and relaxation, assessing your work-life balance is an essential part of managing your lifestyle. We live in a 24/7 world with emails, messages and phone calls in the palm of our hands. The boundaries between home and work are increasingly blurred, but few jobs are so vital that they can’t be put down for an evening or weekend. Learn to ‘close the door’ to your office both physically and metaphorically; switch off your email alerts when you finish working for the day, even better, turn off your phone altogether. As soon as you start to make this habit, you’ll realise that there’s nothing that can’t wait until the next day.
7. BUILD YOUR RESERVES
Imagine energy as a currency and you need reserves in your account before you begin your IVF treatment in order to sustain you throughout it. Many of the couples I see already have very low energy reserves, and I see many women running on empty prior to starting IVF, juggling so many other things in their daily lives. It’s important to stop for a moment and consider what’s actually going on in your life – make a list of all the things that drain your energy, and then start crossing off the things you can do without (for now at least).
8. HAVE ACUPUNCTURE
Acupuncture is a system of balancing qi – the subtle form of energy that Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) considers flows through channels, called meridians, in our bodies. According to TCM, illness results when energy blockages form along the meridians, impending flow and upsetting the body’s overall energy balance. Acupuncture releases these blockages to restore well-being. If at all possible, we recommed beginning acupuncture treatment around two months before starting the IVF process and encourage all of our clients to have weekly acupuncture sessions during IVF treatment. Acupuncture helps improve blood flow to the pelvic area, reduces stress and improves IVF transfer.
9. CHECK YOUR VITAMIN D LEVELS
Our increasingly ‘interior’ lifestyles mean that Vitamin D deficiency is on the rise. This is because the primary source of this vitamin is in sunlight, however Vitamin D is fast emerging as one of the most important vitamins of all for fertility. Studies suggest, for example, that it is present in follicular fluid that nourishes the developing eggs in the ovaries, and that women with low levels of vitamin D show an increased likelihood of implantation issues.
10. TAKE SUPPLEMENTS
While it would be great to get all of our nutrients from diet alone, when preparing the body for conception, and especially for a new round of IVF treatment, we believe its vitally important to optimise the chances of success by making sure neither the man nor the woman is depleted of any vitamin, mineral or other important fertility nutrient or compound – this is where supplements come in. Begin a programme of supplementation at least three months before your IVF treatment begins, in order to repair and regenerate your body, and optimise its systems ready for IVF protocols.