You’re about to start your in vitro fertilization (IVF) journey —
or perhaps you’re already on it. in vitro fertilization (IVF) journey But you’re not alone — about 1 in 8 womenTrusted Source need this extra help in getting pregnant.
If you’re ready to start or add to your family and have tried all other fertility options, IVF is often the best way to have a biological baby.
IVF is a medical procedure in which an egg is fertilized with sperm, giving you an embryo — a baby seedling! This happens outside your body.
Then, the embryo is either frozen or transferred to your uterus (womb), 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. After all, IVF can take time, be physically demanding — and cost quite a bit — all for a chance at getting pregnant.
Not to mention the hormones. Around 2 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 very important for ensuring your body is healthy, strong, and fully prepared for this fairly intense 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 get through your IVF cycle, but you’ll thrive throughout.
Prepare to surprise yourself with your own strength.
IVF cycles and in vitro fertilization (IVF) journey
Going through an IVF cycle means going through several stages. It’s common to need more than one IVF cycle before things stick.
Here’s a breakdown of the stages, including how long each one takes:
in vitro fertilization (IVF) journey : Preparation
The prep stage begins 2 to 4 weeks before you start your IVF cycle in vitro fertilization (IVF) journey . It includes making small lifestyle changes to make sure you’re at your healthiest.
Your doctor might recommend medications to get your menstrual cycle regular. This makes starting the rest of the IVF stages easier.
This stage takes just a day. Day 1 of your IVF is the first day of your period closest to the scheduled IVF treatment. Yes, starting your period is a good thing here!
This stage can take anywhere from 3 to 12 days. You’ll begin fertility drugs that stimulate, or wake up, your ovaries. This gets them revved up to release more eggs than normal.
in vitro fertilization (IVF) journey you’ll have an injection of the “pregnancy hormone” or as it’s also known, human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). This hormone helps your ovaries release some eggs.
Exactly 36 hours after the injection, you’ll be at the fertility clinic where your doctor will harvest or take out the eggs.
Stage 4 in vitro fertilization (IVF) journey
This stage takes a day and has two parts. Your partner (or a donor) will have already provided sperm or will do so while you’re having your eggs harvested.
Either way, the fresh eggs will be fertilized within hours. This is when you’ll begin taking a hormone called progesterone.
This hormone helps prepareTrusted Source your womb for a healthy pregnancy and reduces the chance of a miscarriage.
Less than a week after your eggs were harvested, your healthy embryo will be put back into your womb. This is a noninvasive procedure, and you won’t feel a thing.
At 9 to 12 days later, you’ll be back in your doctor’s office. Your doctor will give you a scan to check on how well your little seedling has made a home in your womb. You’ll also have a blood test to check your pregnancy hormone levels.
Lifestyle tips for IVF
Below, we cover the lifestyle changes that’ll give your body the best support during your IVC cycle, pregnancy and for your general health.
What to eat during IVF
During an in vitro fertilization (IVF) journey , 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. Its plant-based, colorful foundation should provide the positive nutrition your body needs.
In fact, research shows that a Mediterranean diet may improve the IVF success rate among women who are under 35 years old and who don’t have overweight or obesity.
While the study was small, eating a healthy diet during the weeks leading up to the cycle certainly doesn’t hurt.
Since diet also affects sperm health, encourage your partner to stick to the Mediterranean diet with you.
Here are easy ways to revamp your nutrition with 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.
How to work out during IVF
Many women avoid or stop exercising during their IVF cycle because they worry that hitting the mat might not be good for a potential pregnancy. Don’t worry. Most women can continue their exercise routine.
Dr. Eyvazzadeh recommends you keep doing what you’ve been doing, especially if you already have a consistent fitness regimen.
She advises that if you have a healthy body mass index (BMI), have been exercising, and have a healthy womb, you should keep exercising.
Eyvazzadeh does, however, recommend all women undergoing IVF keep their running to no more than 15 miles per week. Your knees will thank you also!
“Running is more disruptive to our fertility than any other form of exercise,” she says.
She explains that it can have negative effects on the thickening of the womb lining and shift blood away from the womb to other organs and muscles when the reproductive system needs it most.
If you’re an avid runner, safely replace your long runs with:
- light jogging
- the elliptical
Which products to toss and chemicals to avoid
Consider tossing or avoiding some household items made with endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs).
EDCs interfere with:
- reproductive health
- prenatal development
Not to mention, they’re not good for your overall health.
The Endocrine SocietyTrusted Source has said these listed chemicals cause “significant concern to human health.” Dr. Eyvazzadeh recommends checking the products you use most and switching to more natural alternatives.
Chemicals to avoid and where they’re found
- nail polish
Parabens, triclosan, and benzophenone
BPA and other phenols
- food-packaging materials
Brominated flame retardants
- yoga mats
- stain-resistant materials
- nonstick cooking tools
- art clay
- medication coatings
- cosmetics with fragrance
As you prepare to start your IVF cycle, tell your fertility doctor about any medications you take. Make sure to list everything, even the most ordinary drug, like:
- a daily allergy pill
- acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil)
- any prescriptions
- over-the-counter (OTC) supplements
Some medications could potentially: in vitro fertilization (IVF) journey
- interfere with fertility drugs
- cause hormonal imbalances
- make IVF treatment less effective
The medications below are the most important to avoid. Ask your doctor if it’s possible to prescribe alternatives during your IVF cycle and even during pregnancy.
Medications to flag to your fertility doctor
- prescription and OTC nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), like aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, Midol), and naproxen (Aleve)
- medications for depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions, like antidepressants
- steroids, like those used to treat asthma or lupus
- antiseizure medications
- thyroid medications
- skin products, especially those containing estrogen or progesterone
- chemotherapy drugs
There are a few natural supplements you can take to help support a new pregnancy.
Start a prenatal vitamin in the 30 days (or even several months) before your IVF cycle begins to increase your folic acid. This vitamin is critically important, as it protects against brain and spinal birth defects in developing fetuses.
Prenatal vitamins can even help your partner boost their sperm health.
Dr. Eyvazzadeh also recommends fish oil, which can support embryonic development.
If your vitamin D levels are low, start taking vitamin D supplements before your IVF cycle. Low levels of vitamin D in the mother may be.