I’m sharing how I prepared for IVF in terms of diet, exercise, supplements and lifestyle changes.
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, this post is only a reflection of my own experience. Do not take it as fact and talk to a doctor before implementing any changes.
Something I learned early on in our infertility journey is that there are lots of opinions and ideas out there about ways you can improve your fertility and how to prepare for IVF. Given our unexplained diagnosis and no clear answer for our miscarriages, I was grasping at anything I could find. It is hard to weed through all the research and opinions out there and I always took the most from other women sharing what they actually did rather than a theoretical. That’s why I am sharing this today. Please know that this is just a recap of what I did and my own experience. I hope it gives you some ideas of things to look into if you are going through IVF. Of course you should always consult a doctor before making any changes.
How I prepped for my egg retrieval
Cut Out Coffee and Alcohol
Around the same time we started at the fertility clinic last spring, I completely cut out coffee and alcohol. I wasn’t drinking much of either for about the year before that, but cutting them out completely was something I could do. It gave me control over something and made me feel like I was making a difference.
Do I think it helped? I have no clue. The RE will tell you no alcohol during active fertility treatments and to limit your coffee consumption to a cup or 2 a day, but I know plenty of people who don’t follow these guidelines and have had a positive IVF outcome. So it’s really up to you, I’m just telling you what I did.
CO-Q10 – I started taking 600mg of CO-Q10 about 3 months prior to our IVF cycle. I don’t know all the science behind it, but it there is some research that suggests it may help improve egg quality. I stopped taking it after my egg retrieval.
Fish Oil – I started taking fish oil around the same time as the CO-Q10. Fish oil has a variety of health benefits. It may be helpful for fertility because it helps to regulate hormones, improve circulation and reduce inflammation.
Biotin – I’ve been taking biotin for years for nail and hair health. I continued taking it throughout treatments and still take it now in pregnancy.
Calcium with Vitamin D – I was also taking this prior to fertility treatment, but vitamin D is very important for fertility. If your vitamin D level is low your RE will likely prescribe a vitamin D supplement.
I didn’t make any big changes to my diet leading up to our egg retrieval. I tried to eat as healthy as I could, but it was also the holidays and I definitely didn’t deprive myself. One specific thing that I did was make sure I ate at least 1/2 avocado everyday. I love avocados, so this was not hard. There is some research that women who ate avocado everyday for 3 months before their egg retrieval had a better outcome. Again… this was something easy that I could do that made me feel like I was somewhat in control of the situation.
My normal exercise routine leading into egg retrieval was running 4-5 miles about 5 days a week and trying to lift weights at least once a week. Once I started stims I stopped running and started walking about an hour a day. When you are stimming you are growing lots of follicles on your ovaries, this causes them to swell and become large. Because of this, there is a chance that you could twist your ovaries (called ovarian torsion) if you are doing intense exercise. It is pretty rare, but I didn’t want to do anything to jeopardize our round of IVF, so I decided to play it safe. Once I had recovered from the egg retrieval I did resume my exercise routine leading into the frozen embryo transfer.
How I prepped for our Frozen Embryo Transfer
I started prepping for our FET about 2-3 weeks before our scheduled transfer date.
Progestrone and Estrogen
Since you do not ovulate prior to a frozen embryo transfer your RE will prescribe you progesterone and estrogen supplements to build your lining and prep your body for pregnancy. I of course followed my RE’s instructions for the timing and dosage of these medications.
My RE recommended I take baby aspirin to help with blood flow. They don’t know the exact reasoning, but some doctors believe baby aspirin may help avoid miscarriage. I started taking it 2 weeks before my FET and I am still taking it now into pregnancy.
I continued with the same supplement regimen listed above, except the Co-Q10 which I stopped after egg retrieval.
Juice and Tea
Your uterine lining is supposed to be at least 8mm when they check it about a week before transfer. If it’s not, your transfer may be cancelled or postponed. Pomegranate juice and red raspberry leaf tea are supposed to help build your lining.
Pomegranate Juice – I drank 4-8oz of pomegranate juice for the 2 weeks leading up to transfer and through the 2 week wait to find out if the transfer worked. It is very sweet, so I would dilute it with water or sometimes I would warm it up and drink it like tea.
Red Raspberry Leaf Tea – This one is controversial. It’s known to be good for women’s health all around and can also be used at the end of pregnancy to try to induce labor. That is because it can cause uterine contractions. Obviously you don’t want your uterus contracting when you are trying to get an embryo to stick. But people swear by it for making their lining thick. About 2 weeks prior to my lining check I started drinking 1 cup a day, I drank it up until the day of my lining check and then I stopped. So I stopped drinking it 6 days prior to transfer.
I have mixed feelings about acupuncture. I started it before our IUIs and went pretty much every week until the 3rd one failed. What I liked about it was my acupuncturist. She was not an employee of our clinic, but she came into the wellness center and she had access to my records, so she was up-to-date on what was going on. As opposed to our RE or my nurse who were fantastic, but much more technical, she was an easy person to talk to that 100% understood my circumstance. She specializes in acupuncture for infertility and was a great resource for questions about diet, exercise, supplements, etc… However, the acupuncture itself is expensive and it’s hard to say if it was effective.
I had purchased a package of sessions and had 2 left leading into our IVF cycle. I didn’t want to pay for more sessions, so my acupuncturist suggested I use 1 a week before transfer and the other immediately following the transfer. Obviously since our transfer was successful I am happy that I did it. But do I think it would have been unsuccessful if I hadn’t? No, probably not.
I was pretty focus on eating a healthy diet leading up to the transfer.
Warm Foods – My acupuncturist was pretty adamant about eating and drinking as many warm foods as possible, so I tried to do that as much as I could. I also drank room temperature water and avoided cold foods like smoothies and ice cream.
Avocado – Continued eating avocado most every day.
Brazil Nuts – Brazil nuts are rumored to help with implementation, I ate 2-3 every day.
Red Meat – Tried to eat red meat as much as I could, my acupuncturist recommended at least 3 times/week.
Limit Sugar – I really cut back on sugar leading into the transfer.
Cut out Soy and Peas – I made sure not to consume soy or peas in the weeks leading up to transfer, they are said to be a natural contraceptive.
Continued my normal workout routine up to transfer. I did not workout the day of transfer.
I used my heating pad on my abdomen each night for about 20 minutes for the 2 weeks leading up to transfer to try to promote blood flow.
What I did after transfer
After transfer didn’t look too different from what I did in the weeks leading up to it.
As I mentioned, I went straight to acupuncture following the transfer and then I went home and rested the remainder of the day. My RE does not recommend bed rest following a transfer (I know some do), but I took it easy for a few days.
I continued eating mostly the same diet.
As far as exercise, I stopped running and switched to walking again. I also did not lift any weights during the 2 week wait.
You do not want to expose an embryo to high heat, so I moved my nightly heating pad regimen to 20 minutes on my feet. I also made sure to keep socks or slippers on at all times to keep my feet warm.
I think that is everything, if you are still reading at this point I hope it was helpful!
If you have any questions about infertility or need someone to talk to I am always here! Feel free to leave a comment below or reach out to me privately at firstname.lastname@example.org