When considering in vitro fertilization, your odds of conceiving are about one in three and you need to do everything you can to improve your chances of success. The reason why a normal IVF success rate is between 20-35% is that a fertile couple has only about a 15-20% chance of conceiving naturally. With the costs of fertility treatments and procedures going up every year, it’s beneficial that you know how to make IVF successful the first time.
10 Tips to Improve Your Chances of IVF Success
Here are some improving IVF success tips you need to know before you try out IVF.
1. Do Your Homework
Selecting a good IVF centre goes a long way in determining your chances of a successful pregnancy. Although all the clinics operate similar to one another, their technicians’ skills, conditions in the lab where the embryo grows, all play a role. Look for such things as:
- Pregnancy ratio per embryo transfer
- Pregnancy rates for couples the same age as you and with your particular fertility problem
- Accreditation of the clinic and board-certification of the physicians
- How much the procedure costs
- How long the embryos can be stored and the cost to do so
- How many of the successful pregnancies are twins or multiple births
2. Avoid Ejaculation to Augment Sperm Count
Men who are donating sperm for the procedure can have a higher success if they abstain from ejaculating 3 to 4 days prior to the donation. Refraining from sexual intercourse and masturbation will help increase the sperm count and the chances of a successful IVF. It’s also important that the semen is analyzed before undergoing the process. Sperm quality can change over time and vary over a year; therefore it is a good idea to undergo a semen analysis to eliminate that variable.
3. Try Acupuncture
Asian tradition use acupuncture to treat many health issues. Several studies have shown that acupuncture is beneficial for women undergoing IVF, especially on the day of transfer. It is thought that acupuncture improves blood flow to the uterus and ovaries which stimulates the release of neurotransmitters. It is also seen that women who have an acupuncture treatment on the day of embryo transfer have more chances of pregnancy than women who didn’t. Women who are interested in this procedure can add it to their IVF care since it has little downside overall.
4. Eat Plenty of Good Fats
A recent study by the Harvard School of Public Health found that eating foods rich in monounsaturated fats could help women trying to get pregnant through IVF methods. These “good fats” are already known to protect the heart, lower inflammation in the body and improve fertility. So eat plenty of foods rich in monounsaturated fats such as avocados, nuts and seeds, sunflower oil and olive oil. Along with improving fertility they are also much needed for the development of the foetus. In contrast, other research has shown that women on a diet rich in saturated fats found in butter and red meat produced fewer eggs that were healthy enough for use in fertility treatment. Therefore add these as part of your IVF success tips diet.
5. Meditation and De-stressing
Avoiding stress cannot be emphasized enough as a major factor that contributes to IVF success. Stress is known to adversely affect health and negatively impact your reproductive system. It’s quite normal to feel anxious and stressed about your fertility treatments; however, you need to find time every day to de-stress to improve your success. You can start with meditation or listening to soothing music each day. Meditation and mindfulness involving gentle breathing techniques can greatly reduce stress and allow your body to function normally. They also curb thoughts of worry and lower your anxiety so you can feel calm and relaxed around your treatments.
6. Avoid Low Glycemic Index Foods, Alcohol and Caffeine
The glycemic index (GI) is a ranking system to classify foods depending on how easily they are digested by the body. Lower the GI, the slower they are digested, thereby ensuring a gradual yet steady supply of energy. This is crucial for maintaining healthy blood glucose levels and reducing weight. Legumes, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, broccoli, sweet potato and mushrooms are some of the foods in this category. Processed foods and their associated oils and sugars have a high GI and are bad for the body. They elevate inflammation, affect hormone levels in the body and negatively affect the immune system.
Alcohol is a teratogen (substance or factor that induces malformations in the foetus) and severely detrimental to the development of the foetus, therefore it must be avoided at all costs. Also on the list of things to avoid is smoking. If you have an addiction toward it, talk to your doctor before going for IVF treatments. Caffeine is also found to adversely affect the developing foetus. No more than 200mg should be taken per day during pregnancy. Ideally, it is better to avoid it during and after your IVF treatment.
7. Have Sex after the Procedure
Although some experts recommend against it, some studies have found that having sexual intercourse after a procedure can improve the success of your IVF so some extent. The hypothesis is that the natural hormones and chemicals released during sex can help the chances of conception. Get your fertility expert’s opinion before going ahead with it.
8. Talk to a Counsellor
Your mental well being significantly affects your health and chances of conception. IVF can take a huge toll on your mental and emotional well being so be prepared for the roller-coaster ride. Get help from a counsellor on taking care of yourself emotionally as you go through feelings of hope, fear, excitement and even terror. Have your spouse, close friends or family to support you through the whole process.
9. Avoid Heavy Exercise
While it is essential to maintain good health through exercise, strenuous exercise can reduce fertility levels in women and decrease their rates of conception. Heavy exercise is also twice as likely to cause implantation failure and pregnancy loss. Therefore go easy around your IVF procedures and opt for low-intensity exercises such as walking, yoga or swimming.
10. Get Plenty of Rest
It’s important that you maintain a consistent sleeping routine to allow your body to rest and recover. Eight hours of sleep a day is ideal and your sleep cycles should be regular for at least two weeks prior to your IVF cycle. Going to bed early is best and it’s recommended that you sleep without the interference of light. Sleeping in total darkness helps regulate the melatonin levels in the body. This hormone is critical for a good night’s sleep and your physical and emotional well being. It also helps in the development of healthy follicles for your IVF.