Preparing Your Body For IVF
In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) treatment is a multi-stage fertility treatment which may take around 20 to 25 days to complete. Although it is one of the best fertility treatments available, many couples find that it is also the most stressful. IVF is often undertaken only after other fertility treatments have failed, so if you're considering trying it, you're likely to be already feeling a degree of pressure and disappointment. As a woman, you will have to take pills and receive multiple injections of fertility drugs. You'll also have to have a number of tests, for example, ultrasound exams, so that your doctors can monitor your progress and implement each stage of the process at the optimal time. So just how do you prepare for such a grueling experience?
The key to IVF preparation is positive attitude and focusing on your long term goals. Before you begin each cycle of IVF, you should try visualizing your ideal outcome, namely, nursing your baby in your arms. When things get difficult, try to hold on to that image.
Three Areas Of Preparation
Good preparation for each cycle of IVF will increase your chances of a successful outcome, reduce the side effects you'll experience from fertility drugs, and help your body to recover afterwards. You might find it helpful to break down your preparation into three key areas: nutritional, physical and mental.
About four to six weeks before each cycle of IVF you should begin thinking about your nutritional health. A healthy, balanced diet is very important as is adequate hydration (you should drink around two liters of water per day). Foods to avoid are chocolate, processed foods and foods with high sugar content. You should try to eat at least 60 mg of protein a day. This is important because low levels of protein in your body can cause you to produce fewer eggs. Try to get this protein from healthy sources, such as lean (possibly organic) meat, beans, lentils and fish. You should also reduce or cut out your consumption of caffeine and alcohol. Needless to say, cigarettes or illegal drugs are out of the question. If you are taking any prescription medication, make sure that your fertility specialist is aware of this. It can be a good idea to take a daily multivitamin, as certain vitamins can help you to produce eggs and create optimal conditions in your uterus for nurturing embryos. Talk to your fertility specialist before making any radical changes to your diet or starting on any course of vitamins or herbal supplements.
Being overweight or underweight can hamper your chances of getting pregnant through IVF. If you have either of these problems you should try to rectify them gradually and not via crash diets or highly strenuous exercise. Light exercise such as walking or yoga is safe, but aerobic exercise should be avoided. Make sure that you avoid cigarettes and smoky atmospheres, as the chemicals in cigarette smoke can affect the lining of your uterus. Avoid sitting for long periods in the same position as this can restrict blood flow. If you work on the computer all day, make sure you get up once in a while and walk around. You should also avoid hot baths, Jacuzzis and sun bathing. However, keeping the abdomen warm with a hot water bottle in the period leading up to the egg-harvesting and transfer stages can be helpful. Don't use the hot water bottle after transfer.
You must give yourself enough time to relax and recover from each cycle of treatment. If you try and live your life just as you did before you were having IVF, you will run into problems. You need to accept the changes it brings about in your energy levels and you should try to adjust your schedule to allow for that. Don't forget to spend time with your partner and communicate with him. You both will to talk about the IVF and your experiences, but also to focus on other things, the things you enjoy doing together. Lastly, you might find it easier to cope of with some of the stressful decision making that comes with IVF if you consider potential scenarios in advance. By discussing these with your partner and your doctor, you'll be in a better position to deal with them should they arise.