Okay, obviously a successful IVF round depends on your IVF clinic and all the hard work of those who work there – but is there anything else that can make a difference?
Research is limited in this area, we are beginning to see some relating to diet and IVF outcomes, mainly focusing on obesity in women, otherwise the evidence is poor or non existent. The past 5 years my work has focused on female fertility, both natural and IVF routes and I am always going through my notes to look for patterns and trends in successful cases. What is particularly interesting is look at the results of women with consecutive IVF rounds when the levels of medication have not be altered, yet the response to the stims and overall thickness of endometrial lining is significantly greater. I notice that my patients who do conceive whilst in my care, share several lifestyle and dietary changes.
1. Acupuncture. Yes it is obvious that all the women I see have acupuncture, but there we go. The acupuncture itself I believe to have its own physiological benefits, but also there are other factors. It is a certain kind of woman who walks into the acupuncture clinic, on top of wanting to be pregnant she is actually willing to make dramatic changes to the way to day to day life.
2. Coffee. I see much higher pregnancy rates within my clinic for women who abstain for coffee completely.
3. Nutrition and supplements. I see higher pregnancy rates in women who eat whole foods, plentiful amounts of both animal and vegetable protein, and avoid sugar.
4. Rest. I see higher pregnancy rates in women who take time off work / reduce working hours in the stims and in the week following transfer. I’m not advocating bed rest, just the time to relax and slow down.
5. Endometrial lining. I see a thicker endometrial lining in women (with no change to medication) in women who i) practice the pelvic stretches that I show them to increase pelvic circulation ii) take the adequate supplement to boost nutrition. Although I am not a fan generally of taking supplements as nutrition should be through proper diet, in cases of previous poor response we will recommend the relevant supplements you need.
6. Couples whereby the male partner also adheres to a healthy lifestyle for at least 3 months prior to IVF ( no cigarettes, alcohol and coffee ), also seem to fare better. IVF focuses on the woman regardless of the type of infertility and this is a mistake in my opinion. It may simply be a case that women feel more supported by their partners and that they are ‘in it together’.
7. Women with scanty menstrual flow – various conditions like PCOS can results in little blood lost at menstruation. In my experience, if we can get the period heavier for a couple of months before IVF starts, then the woman tends to responds better to the IVF medication. At The Norwich Natural Fertility Partnership we recommend such women visit us for 3 months prior to IVF in preparation.
So there you have it – Prepare, take some time out, relax and look after yourself when going through IVF, once baby comes there will be little time left!
If you or anyone you know want to get the most out of your next round of IVF get in touch with our fertility team at the clinic for a confidential chat to see if we can help you.