The 30-Day Guide to IVF Success: Diet, Chemicals, Sex, and More
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The 30-Day Guide to IVF Success: Diet, Chemicals, Sex, and More



 IVF: What to expect and timeline

About 1 in 8 women have trouble getting pregnant, experts estimate. If you’re ready to start or add to your family and have tried all other fertility options, in vitro fertilization (IVF) is often your next option for having a biological baby.

IVF is a medical procedure in which a woman’s egg is fertilized with sperm, resulting in an embryo. Then, the embryo is either frozen or transferred to the woman’s uterus, which will hopefully result in pregnancy.

You may have several emotions as you prepare for, start, and complete an IVF cycle. Anxiety, sadness, and uncertainty are common as you make a substantial financial and physical investment for a chance at getting pregnant.

Not to mention the hormones. Around two weeks of regular shots can heighten your emotions and make your body feel completely out of whack.

It makes sense then that the 30 days leading up to your IVF cycle are critical for ensuring your body is healthy, strong, and fully prepared for the intensive medical process.

This is your guide to giving yourself and your partner the best chance possible at having a baby through IVF. With this advice, you’ll not only survive your IVF cycle, but thrive throughout.

Prepare to surprise yourself with your own strength.

Design by Andie Hodgson

There are various stages of a single IVF cycle. It’s possible to need more than one cycle to get pregnant. Here’s a breakdown of the stages, including the duration of each:

  • Preparation (two to four weeks before start of cycle). Make the realistic lifestyle changes outlined in this guide to ensure optimal health. Your doctor may help regulate your menstrual cycle to align with the start of your scheduled IVF cycle, hormones, and ovaries.
  • Stage 1 (1 day). Day one of your IVF cycle is the first day of your period closest to scheduled treatment. Yes, starting your period is a good thing here!
  • Stage 2 (3 to 12 days). Begin taking fertility drugs for the purpose of stimulating, or waking up, your ovaries. This prepares them for increased egg production.
  • Stage 3 (36 hours). A single injection of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) is given to stimulate the release of the developed eggs. It’s nicknamed the “pregnancy hormone.” Exactly 36 hours after the injection, you’ll undergo a procedure to retrieve, or harvest, the eggs.
  • Stage 4 (1 day). Your partner (or donor) will have already provided sperm or will do so while you’re undergoing retrieval. Either way, the fresh eggs will be fertilized within hours. This is when you’ll begin taking progesterone, which helps prepare your uterus to maintain the viability of the pregnancy and reduce chance of miscarriage.
  • Stage 5 (5 days). Less than a week after retrieval, your viable embryo will be transferred to your uterus in a noninvasive procedure.
  • Stage 6 (9 to 12 days). You’ll be tested to ensure the embryo has safely implanted in the uterus, which will trigger your body’s release of pregnancy hormones.

Below, we cover the lifestyle changes that’ll give your body the best support for pregnancy during your IVF cycle.

Design by Andie Hodgson

What to eat during IVF

During an IVF cycle, focus on eating healthy, balanced meals. Don’t make any major or significant changes during this time, like going gluten-free if you weren’t already.

Dr. Aimee Eyvazzadeh, a reproductive endocrinologist, recommends a Mediterranean-style diet to her patients. Its plant-based, colorful foundation should provide the positive nutrition your body needs.

Research shows that a Mediterranean diet may improve the IVF success rate among non-obese women who are less than 35 years old. While the study was small, eating a healthy diet during the weeks leading up to the cycle certainly doesn’t hurt.

Since diet also impacts sperm health, encourage your partner to stick to the Mediterranean diet with you.

Try it: The Mediterranean diet

  • Fill up on fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Choose lean proteins, like fish and poultry.
  • Eat whole grains, like quinoa, farro, and whole-grain pasta.
  • Add in legumes, including beans, chickpeas, and lentils.
  • Switch to low-fat dairy products.
  • Eat healthy fats, such as avocado, extra-virgin olive oil, nuts, and seeds.
  • Avoid red meat, sugar, refined grains, and other highly processed foods.
  • Cut out salt. Flavor food with herbs and spices instead.


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