Updated: Jun 10, 2022
You may have been trying to conceive for some time, had various investigations, and been told that the next step is to undergo fertility treatment. The question is, now that IVF is on the horizon, does it make any difference if you change your diet and lifestyle before your treatment? The answer is yes it does!
IVF is a fantastic procedure that has helped many couples to conceive. Although IVF can increase your chances of conception, what it cannot do is alter the quality of your eggs and sperm. Afterall, the aim is to achieve a healthy pregnancy and healthy baby, and to have as few rounds of fertility treatment as possible, so if there is something that you can do to increase your chances of success, surely that is worth doing?
Making changes to your diet and lifestyle is not a quick fix option, so it is important to factor in time for this. It takes around 3 months to mature an egg and produce a batch of sperm, this gives you a window of opportunity to make some positive changes not only to egg and sperm quality, but also to your overall health. Plus, going through fertility treatment can feel quite overwhelming, and that you have a lack of control over what is going on with your body, but by making diet and lifestyle changes you can take back control, knowing you are doing everything possible to have the healthiest treatment cycle.
So where should you start? Food first is always a good approach. Making sure that your diet is as healthy as possible, and that you are getting all the nutrients you need to support egg and sperm health. Although I do not advocate any particular diets, everyone is different so an individual approach is advisable, the Mediterranean way of eating is really supportive of fertility. This involves eating lots of plant foods, plenty of fish, some meat, plant proteins, and healthy fats. Focus on increasing the variety of foods you eat, particularly plant foods, so that you can benefit from all the different phytochemicals they offer. Eliminating or cutting back on processed foods and sugar is also advisable as these are inflammatory and can damage eggs and sperm.
Good quality nutritional supplements can help to improve the quality of eggs and sperm. However, supplementation is an area you should work with a qualified practitioner on to ensure you get the right supplements and dosage for you. Supplements can be powerful, and it is not always a case of the more you take the better!
Working on lifestyle pre treatment is also important. IVF is a stressful process so anything you can do to manage stress before your cycle is key. Try to find something you can do just for you every day (which doesn’t involve screens!) even if it’s just for 10 minutes. Laughing and getting out in nature is a really fantastic way to boost those endorphins (happy hormones). Doing gentle exercise such as walking, Pilates, and yoga, are all fantastic for increasing blood flow to the pelvic region. Also consider trying acupuncture or reflexology, to not only reduce stress, but also to help support the IVF process. If your sleep is poor, this is also an area to focus on. Sleep is essential for supporting ovulation, testosterone production, and general wellbeing. Getting to bed earlier, and turning phones off a few hours before bed, can really improve the quality of your sleep.
Testing is worth considering before you go into a treatment cycle. Although you will have already undergone lots of testing and investigations to get to where you are, there may be areas that have not been considered. For example, a comprehensive thyroid screen for women is very useful to get a detailed picture of what is going on. Quite often only one or two thyroid markers are tested which may not tell you the full story. It is important that your thyroid is working optimally before going into a treatment cycle as poor thyroid function can affect fertility and pregnancy outcomes. Looking at the bacteria in the vaginal can also be very useful to see if there is anything there that may be having an impact on fertility. On the male side, if a semen analysis result is not optimal then investigating for any infections or structural issues that might be the cause is also important.
There is a lot that can be done before embarking on fertility treatment, and only once all of this has been addressed should you be turning to IVF. Afterall IVF should be the last resort not the first resort.
If you would like some help to prepare for fertility treatment, contact me to find out about my 12 week Boost Your Fertility programme. Book your free discovery call to find out how I can help you.
Disclaimer: Nutritional Therapy is not a replacement for medical advice, practitioners always refer any client with ‘red flag’ signs or symptoms to their medical professional. The information provided here is general and is not intended to treat, diagnose, prevent or cure any diseases or conditions.