How to Prepare for a Successful IVF
There is a lot to prepare for as you plan for your first cycle of IVF (“In Vitro Fertilization”). To start, your medical team will have you go through a series of tests to identify any issues you need to address before you begin.
During this time, you can also take steps on your own to prepare your body and mind for the process. With some careful attention to your physical and mental well-being, you can enter your IVF cycle feeling your best and in the healthiest place you can be to increase your odds of making IVF successful the first time. Please consult with your doctor as these recommendations may vary for individuals!
Pre-Screening Before IVF Cycles
Before IVF begins, your medical team will probably run several tests to help understand the underlying cause of any fertility challenges and to help you prepare for the best possible chances of success when IVF begins!
One thing that can be helpful: to research in advance and come prepared with a list of questions
Medical testing prior to IVF may include:
- Blood work to check hormone levels. Often, your doctor will do ‘initial blood hormone testing’ – usually on the second or third day of your menstrual cycle. This is done to establish baseline hormone levels for more accurate monitoring and testing throughout the IVF cycle. They will also likely check for any hormone imbalances to resolve prior to beginning IVF. (Note: They will probably run blood tests several times during the IVF process to check your hormones.)
- Genetic screening for genetic disorders. This blood work screening checks for hundreds of diseases. If the results indicate the possibility that you (or your partner) are a carrier for something, you may receive genetic counseling, where they will explain the results and how to interpret them. (Just because you are a carrier doesn’t necessarily mean you will pass something on to a baby).
- Semen testing (if applicable). This test will check to see if there are male-factor fertility issues, such as low sperm count, that need to be addressed.
- Ultrasound. Your doctor may perform an internal ultrasound to evaluate your uterine lining and ovarian follicles.
- Other exams/ procedures as required. Your medical team may recommend additional screenings, tests or procedures to set you up for a successful cycle of IVF. For example, some patients may need a hysteroscopy, which allows for both a full evaluation of the uterine cavity and an opportunity to remove fibroids , polyps, and scar tissue that may hinder conception.
Extra Tips For a Successful IVF Cycle
Taking care of yourself is essential to preparing for IVF. You can do this in numerous ways, from eating well and getting the proper nutrients to taking proactive steps to managing your mental health. Enter your IVF journey as healthy and prepared as you can be with the following tips.
Eat an IVF-Friendly Diet
Some evidence suggests that a healthy diet is associated with improved fertility. Eating nutritious foods and staying hydrated may benefit not only the intended carrier of the child but also the sperm source . As it turns out, diet can impact egg and sperm health.
Many fertility experts recommend a healthy, balanced IVF diet that includes:
- Lots of water! Aim for a minimum of 7 glasses per day.
- Fresh fruits and vegetables
- Whole grains, such as quinoa or brown rice
- Legumes, such as beans and lentils
- Healthy fats, including nuts, seeds, avocados, lean meats, or fatty fish (e.g., salmon)
That said, IVF can be stressful (and sometimes, you just need that ice cream!) So if this feels like too much, you could always take a prenatal vitamin.
Reduce Caffeine – and Avoid Alcohol and Smoking
Several studies suggest cutting down to just one cup of coffee per day if you can’t give it up completely. (Also may be worth checking labels! Some drinks, like kombucha, have caffeine as well). After the embryo transfer: while studies are mixed, some have shown that higher levels of caffeine consumption (+300mg per day) can lead to higher rates of miscarriage.
There are studies that suggest limiting alcohol can improve outcomes. As you prepare for IVF, many experts recommend avoiding alcohol, especially after the embryo transfer occurs. Most major organizations, such as the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), advise that those trying to conceive avoid alcohol altogether.
Now is the time to stop smoking, vaping, and using cannabis. The FDA states smoking can cause serious issues for the baby in utero, decrease fertility and impair hormone production. Male partners (hi!), now might be the time to consider stopping smoking. Turns out: smoking can damage the DNA in the sperm.
Take Prenatal Vitamins to Support Fetal Health
During pregnancy, getting the right nutrients is vital. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists explains that prenatal vitamins contain the right mix of vitamins and minerals to support a healthy pregnancy and prevent certain problems, such as defects of the spinal cord and brain (neural tube defects).
The neural tube begins to develop during the first month of pregnancy, so taking prenatal vitamins before beginning IVF can help ensure healthy development in the very early stages before a pregnancy test will even show a positive result.
Prioritize Self-Care to Reduce Stress
Stress can cause menstrual cycle changes (including irregular periods) and lower the chances of conceiving (per the Office on Women’s Health).
And there’s no question that experiencing fertility issues can cause stress. Taking care of yourself as you manage your IVF journey is not only good for your mental health, it might also improve your odds of getting pregnant.
There is some evidence to show that interventions to manage stress (such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, or CBT) in IVF patients may decrease depression and anxiety and improve pregnancy rates.
Some ways to manage stress before and during IVF may include:
- Keeping a gratitude diary
- Moderate exercise
If you need it, choose to speak with a mental health professional. Therapy has become more available than ever, with the expansion of telehealth options and therapy apps. There is no shame in seeking help, and therapy can be an extremely useful tool in managing stress, anxiety, and other difficult emotions that arise through the IVF process.
Begin your IVF Journey with Sunfish
With so much to think about as you prepare for IVF, worrying about how to cover the costs can be altogether too much. Let us help take that burden from you. Our mission is to make parenthood affordable for everyone who longs to have children. One of our financial advocates can meet with you to talk you through all the ways that you can pay for IVF so that parenthood is no longer a dream but a real possibility.