Here we share some of our fertility experts’ answers.
Raúl Olivares, MD Gynaecologist, Medical Director & Owner Barcelona IVF
To be honest, in regard to improving the quality of gametes (egg cells) and therefore improving the quality of the embryos that we transfer, there is very little that you can do. However, we still recommend leading a healthy lifestyle because if we succeed, the patient is going to be pregnant. It is very important to start pregnancy in the best conditions. It is best to lose weight, quit smoking, avoid alcohol, do exercise with moderate intensity, take antioxidants, vitamins, folic acid, and things like that. Concerning other kinds of things, let’s say a more holistic approach with acupuncture, traditional Chinese medicine, and things like that – once more, there is no evidence that these kinds of treatments or procedures are going to increase the live birth rate. However, these kinds of things such as holistic treatments may help patients to cope with the treatment. How they feel during the process is also important. In some cases, it has been suggested that, for example, acupuncture may increase the blood flow, and this may help to have a better endometrium in cases of cryotransfers or egg donations.
Harry Karpouzis, MD, MRCOG, DIUE Gynaecologist, Founder & Scientific Director Pelargos IVF Medical Group
Ideally, a couple will be very well-prepared before going ahead with IVF. First, they need to make an informed choice with the reproductive medicine specialist and the laboratory where they will have their IVF. It is equally important to have a good doctor with experience in the field and a good laboratory. So, your choice of fertility clinic is vital.
Lifestyle modifications such as stopping smoking and reducing alcohol are very important prior to and during IVF. This applies to both the male and female partner. Those two things can affect the quality of eggs and sperm. For women, taking Folic acid is essential. There are many multivitamins on the market which include valuable elements such as coenzyme q10, carnitine, zinc and vitamin D.
For women, making sure that your hormones and your thyroid gland are under control before you undergo a process of IVF is very important. These are checks that your fertility clinic should make.
Stress is a negative factor, and it has been proven that it can affect the chances of successful IVF in many ways. Anything that can be stress relieving like acupuncture that works in many ways can be used so that you go into a process of IVF with as less stress as possible. It has been proven that a normal diet with lots of vegetables and fruits at the time of the IVF can also play an important role.
Santiago Eduardo Novoa, MD Gynaecologist, specialised in Reproductive Medicine Instituto iGin
IVF takes time to plan so don’t expect to start the treatment the next day after your initial consultation. The first thing is to be patient, the second thing is that all the tests involved, for example genetics, normally take a couple of weeks to get the results back. It’s therefore likely to be a few weeks between the initial consultation, the decision of what treatment you are going to follow and when your IVF treatment will start. In the meantime, it’s important for you to continue with your everyday life in a healthy way. It’s always good to practice some kind of exercise or sport and of course you have to avoid toxins in that period like tobacco, alcohol, drugs and you can start with the vitamins principally folic acid in order to prevent all the issues related with the malformation of the spine of the baby. Those are things I advise you to do between the initial consultation and when your IVF cycle starts.
Matthew Prior, PhD, MBBS Gynaecologist, Reproductive Medical Consultant, Founder of The Big Fertility Project
It’s really difficult because when I see patients who are going into IVF for the first time, they’re understandably full of hope. Often, they have already been on a very long journey sometimes spanning years going through tests, investigations and scans. Inevitably, they’re hanging all their hopes on their first cycle of IVF working.
I tell my patients to focus on preparing for pregnancy – like taking folic acid, getting your weight okay, ensuring that you don’t smoke, limiting the amount alcohol that you drink. Improving lifestyle factors for both women and men is very important. Saying that, we also have to recognise that a lot to do with the outcome of IVF is simply not within a patient’s control. Age for example effects the quality of a woman’s eggs and this of course, cannot be changed.
I advise patients to remember that often it takes more than one cycle of IVF before a successful pregnancy is achieved. Be kind to yourself. Control what you can: for example, a healthy diet and lifestyle. And don’t stress about what you can’t control.
Delphine Dewandre, Senior Embryologist Beacon CARE Fertility
I think it’s challenging for every woman coming into treatment. They’re always trying to do the best they can to have a good IVF treatment. To be honest there’s not much you can do as your hormonal balance will be put on hold and will be controlled by external hormones. The only thing I can say is that if you should try to live healthy: eat healthy and do some sports, especially try to keep the stress levels low.
Solvita Funka, MD Gynaecologist, Reproductologist & Obstetrician
To improve the implantation rate, we can choose the best approach for every individual couple, and we can choose the best options in the lab and adjust medication accordingly. Thanks to that, the implantation rate will be maximized as best as possible in each case.