or many women wanting to get pregnant, IVF can seem like the fall back option if all else fails – an option that will bring that much wanted baby even when nothing else has worked. It looks like IVF is a great plan B and bound to work. The reality, however, is very different.
For the majority of women who chose IVF, the per cycle success rate is 20-35%. Several rounds of IVF treatment is not only expensive, it also takes a toll on your health and bringing with it myriad harsh short term and long term side effects. Plus, the more IVF cycles you go through, the less likely you are to become pregnant as a result of the hormonal bashing your body is being subjected to.
Whether you’re getting ready to start your first IVF treatment cycle or you’ve been through IVF before, you probably have heard a lot of crazy advice on how to make sure your cycle is successful. Does anything really make a difference? Are there actions you can take to improve your chances of getting pregnant?
DO YOUR HOMEWORK
It takes time and patience to select a successful IVF centre. When you screen potential IVF sites, ask questions! Research the clinics in your area. Compare the various sites based on different qualities such as:
- Are the physicians board certified?
- What specialties are they certified in?
- Do the clinics use accredited labs?
- What types of amenities and services are offered to patients?
- Have they worked with many women of similar age with your particular health condition and procedure?
Once the search has ended, then-
MAKE SURE THAT YOU’RE HEALTHY
Your general state of health affects your chances of a successful embryo transfer and a healthy pregnancy. So the best thing you can do is lead a healthy life. Stop smoking, eat a healthy diet, exercise in moderation, lose the extra weight, and get more sleep. Don’t overindulge in alcohol. Forget about any recreational drugs. This may sound dull, but it’s worth it to help you get to your goal of starting a family.
CUT BACK ON THE COFFEE
New research shows that, for women, drinking more than five cups of coffee a day has a negative effect on your chance of getting pregnant. So, back away from the free refills at work, and be aware of how much coffee you drink every day.
AGE IS A FACTOR
Don’t wait too late to start IVF. Success rates with IVF decrease over age 35, and decrease sharply over age 40. Some experts estimate that as many as 1 in 3 women will have trouble with fertility after age 35, with most women struggling to conceive after they turn 40. If you’re over 40, you may want to consider donor eggs to increase your odds of having a healthy baby.
If you are under 30 or 35 years old, time may be your friend. Almost half of couples under age 35 who have been trying for less than two years to get pregnant have a greater than 30 percent pregnancy rate. If your male partner has fertility issues or you have been diagnosed with factors that make IVF your best option, your age is in your favour. You may be at the long tail of the fertility curve—don’t give up if IVF does not work on your first cycle.
DON’T IGNORE THE MALE
A semen analysis is important when going through IVF. Sperm quality can change as time passes, and sperm health can change in just one year’s time. It is important for your partner to undergo a semen analysis before you begin an IVF cycle. Other tests to check DNA fragmentation may be recommended by your doctor based on your case history.
TALK OPENLY WITH YOUR DOCTOR
Ask questions. Find out what to expect during the IVF process. Learn the dos and don’ts of taking care of yourself during your cycle. Write everything down, especially the directions for all of your medications. Once you understand more about how IVF works, you can boost your chances for a successful conception.
TAKE TIME TO RELAX
Balance the stress of IVF with activities that promote relaxation and wellness. Because of the intense stress involved, make sure you keep other life stressors to a minimum. Avoid making other major life changes such as moving to a new house or starting a new job while going through the IVF process.
Note: get your doctor’s approval before doing any intense exercise or invasive physical spa treatments like deep tissue massage.
- TALK TO A COUNSELOR
- Consider talking to a mental health counsellor if you feel anxious, depressed, or if your relationship feels strained. Some findings show that being involved in a stress management program or undergoing counselling may even boost your chances of conceiving. Above all, do not be ashamed or feel guilty if your emotions are overwhelming during this time. It is completely normal. Still, it will help you greatly to practice self-care during this time.
No doctor will be able to “guarantee” a healthy pregnancy after IVF, but you can get a good idea of your potential for success with IVF by doing your homework and following your doctor’s recommendations.
Learn more about IVF here.