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Before starting IVF treatment it is common to think of questions like ‘What can I do to improve my chances of falling pregnant?’, which is what we are commonly asked at Care Fertility. Here’s what we suggest to our patients that you and your partner should be doing before you start IVF treatment. 

For the female partner

Tests

Some tests require before treatment include:

  • German measles (rubella) 
  • chickenpox (varicella)
  • thyroid function

If you’re not immune, see your GP or Care Fertility doctor who will be able to arrange the vaccinations.

Medications, supplements and alternative medications 

Some medications should be taken before IVF treatment, one of these is folic acid. Having folic acid before and after treatment cycle to reduce the risk of spina bifida (neural tube defect) in the baby. Check the dosage with your Care Fertility doctor, as dosage can vary depending on your BMI and medical conditions. It is also recommended to take 250mcg of iodine a day to ensure that the baby has good levels of thyroid hormone.

There are supplements that should be avoided. These include:

  • Vitamin A
  • Multivitamin instead of folic acid. There is no proven benefit of having multivitamins instead of folic acid. 
  • Fish oil extracts. It may affect bleeding which could be important during egg collection. 
  • Chinese herbal medications. The effects of the herbs are unknown and they could interfere with treatment cycles as some have a weak oestrogen effect. 

Lifestyle

Lifestyle factors are important when trying to conceive. Lifestyle choices that should be avoided before starting IVF treatment include cigarette smoking, alcohol consumption, illicit drugs, and intensive exercise. Rapid weight loss immediately before an IVF cycle should also be avoided as it is related to a reduced pregnancy rate. However, losing weight before and during pregnancy can increase the chances of falling pregnant if you have polycystic ovarian syndrome. Weight loss of 0.5 kg to 1 kg a week is ideal if you are overweight. 

What to do before ivfIt is recommended that the use of acupuncture is discussed with the doctor.  Acupuncture does not appear to improve or reduce the pregnancy rate during IV F.

For the male partner

Before IVF treatment, men should ejaculate 2-3 times a week for 2-3 months prior to the egg collection. 

Medications, supplements and alternative medications

If the male partner has semen abnormalities, antioxidants such as vitamin E 400 IU twice daily, vitamin C 500 mg twice daily and folate 0.5 mg (or 500 mcg) daily may help. 

Lifestyle 

Men should avoid cigarette use, use of illicit drugs (particularly marijuana), anabolic steroid use and excessive alcohol in the 2-3 months prior to the date of the planned egg collection. In particular, cigarette smoking in the male is associated with a halving of the success rate of an IVF cycle. 

Reducing exposure to endocrine disruptors is also important in the two to three months prior to an IVF cycle.

Managing the stress of infertility is important for both partners and there are many options for emotional support. It’s important to discuss with your doctor about your options about how to manage stress. 

It’s normal to have many more questions before starting IVF treatment. Make a list before you see your IVF doctor or speak to your Care Fertility specialist. 


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