Taking the step to begin in vitro fertilization is a big deal. It’s a time consuming process, as well as a costly one, and can add stress to the already emotional journey of trying to conceive. However, there are a number of lifestyle habits and fertility supplements for women that can aid in a successful result from the in vitro fertilization process.
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What is In Vitro Fertilization
In vitro fertilization, or IVF, is the process of external egg fertilization to encourage conception and pregnancy. IVF starts by surgically removing an egg from a woman’s uterus. Typically, women undergoing IVF will be required to take fertility drugs to stimulate egg production. Women usually produce only one egg a month, but fertility drugs used for IVF increase egg production so more than one can be harvested at a time. It’s important to remove multiple eggs at once, as there’s a chance that not all eggs extracted will succeed in being fertilized. From there, a sperm sample is collected from the partner of the woman and is mixed with the egg in a laboratory dish. This step of the IVF process is called insemination. Once the eggs are inseminated with sperm, the sperm acts to fertilize the eggs and create an embryo. Inseminated eggs are typically monitored by doctors for a few days to ensure that fertilization has taken place, and that the embryos cells are replicating and dividing correctly. From there, a fertilized embryo can be inserted via medical procedure directly into the uterus, so the egg can implant itself there. Once the egg is implanted in the uterus, pregnancy occurs.
How to Prep for In Vitro Fertilization
In vitro fertilization is a process that requires a great deal of preparation. About two to four weeks before the IVF cycle begins, your doctor will likely recommend some general lifestyle changes to make sure your body is in its best shape to conceive via IVF. Here are some of the most common ways women prepare themselves for IVF:
Eating a Healthy, Balanced Diet
- It’s important to eat well-rounded, nutritious foods in the weeks leading up to, and during your IVF cycle. By eating healthy meals, you’re ensuring that your body is getting all the nutrients it needs to support its immune system and makes it a welcome environment for a potential fetus. Focus on eating healthy fats, whole fruits and vegetables, and lean meat and dairy products. Try to avoid inflammatory foods, like highly processed salty snacks.
Cut Out Alcohol and Tobacco
- As is the case with natural conception, cutting out alcohol and tobacco products before undergoing IVF is essential. IVF success rates have shown in studies to be significantly higher in those who drink less, or nothing at all, before their cycle starts. Also, once the embryo is implanted, it’s imperative to cease all alcohol, tobacco, and/or recreational drug use for the sake of the fetus’ development.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
- It’s good to stay active during your IVF journey and maintain a healthy weight to increase positive IVF outcomes. However, you don’t want to add too much undue stress to the body during an IVF cycle, as it could impact your hormone levels. Instead of doing a lot of high-intensity workouts while prepping for IVF, try some lighter workouts like yoga, light jogging, or hiking.
Get Enough Sleep
- Getting enough sleep is vital to your overall health even when you’re not trying to conceive. As such, getting seven to eight hours of rest nightly is even more crucial when beginning IVF. Proper sleep also is extremely important in reducing stress levels, and keeps your hormones balanced, so your body is ready to conceive.
Supplements to Take In Preparation for IVF
In addition to making lifestyle changes that support the outcomes of IVF, there are a number of supplements that can help to increase your fertility when taken in the weeks leading up to your procedure.
- DHEA – DHEA, or dehydroepiandrosterone, is a hormone that aids in the production of the reproductive hormones estrogen and testosterone. While DHEA occurs naturally in the body, it decreases rapidly as we age. Adding a DHEA supplement to your routine in the weeks before an IVF cycle can help to increase egg quality and production.
- CoQ10 – Coenzyme Q10 is an antioxidant that supports cell growth and maintenance. It can help in bolstering the quality of egg cells. CoQ10 is often taken alongside DHEA for best results.
- Prenatal Vitamins – Doctors typically recommend that women begin taking prenatal vitamins a few weeks before starting IVF. Prenatal supplements contain a variety of nutrients essential for healthy fetal development including: folate, Vitamin D3, and K2.
In vitro fertilization is a process that helps those who are struggling to conceive achieve a successful pregnancy. There are a variety of lifestyle habits and helpful supplements that can increase the IVF success rates, and ensure a healthy pregnancy to follow after conception. What lifestyle changes have you made that have helped in your own IVF journey?