Your Plan Of Action – The Natural Approach
Research shows that following a good fertility diet can improve your chances of success when you are going for IVF or ICSI treatment
- Eat plenty of fruits and veg and snack on nuts daily
- Eat more fish and vegetarian meals and less meat and processed foods
- Take a good fertility multivitamin and mineral supplement
Best Test Options: Nutritional Profile MGL4
You may be going for IVF for the first time and want to increase the chances of it being successful or you may have already had a number of unsuccessful attempts at IVF and want to know what you can do to prepare yourselves for the next one.
The aim is to improve egg quality and also sperm quantity and quality.
The eggs needs to be strong and healthy to be able to develop into embryos and proceed to implantation in the womb. It is thought that many more conceptions take place than proceed to pregnancy, as the early embryo can decline and stop developing if egg quality is poor. This is usually unknown to us, except during an IVF procedure where the developing embryo is carefully watched during its first few days. If the embryo declines after a couple of days in culture in the lab, it is possible you will be told that egg quality is an issue for you.
It is also worth noting that sperm quality is critical here also. The egg needs to be strong enough to be able to fix some of these sperm problems itself. This is really a remarkable capacity of the egg. However, if egg quality is already a concern, making sure the sperm is as healthy as possible is important – giving the egg an easier job to do.
Can Nutrition Help?
Following a good fertility diet is beneficial for everyone when they are trying to conceive and when you are going for IVF or another assisted conception procedure, making dietary and lifestyle changes will increase your chances of success.
You should focus on three months where you make changes in your diet, lifestyle and take certain key nutrients in supplement form. This is especially important if you are over the age of 35, have unexplained infertility, had a number of failed IVFs or have experienced recurrent miscarriages.
Three months is the recommended period of time for pre-conception because it takes approximately that long for the follicles on a woman’s ovaries to develop before one is mature enough to release an egg at ovulation.
Women are born with their egg store so although we cannot change your ovarian reserve we can certainly help to change the quality of your eggs and this is the
important point. By improving the quality of your eggs, it increases your chances of conceiving naturally and also preventing a miscarriage. If you are going for IVF this will help the eggs to be as healthy as possible so as to give the technique the best chance. With a national average success rate for IVF of just 25 per cent, it is important to do whatever is possible.
Based on research, we know that a fertility friendly diet is high in vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds. Fish intake is important, particularly omega-3 rich fish such as wild/ organic salmon, mackerel, sardines, herring and anchovies. Including more pulses and plant-based foods is helpful and reducing red meat, particularly processed meats is beneficial. A reduction in high fat, high sugar processed foods is recommended.
Nutrients To Help Prepare For IVF
So as well as eating a healthy diet, supplementation can be helpful to increase the success rate of IVF or ICSI. It is important to have a good multivitamin and mineral supplement that is designed for fertility. This multi would contain a number of key nutrients that are important for women including folic acid, zinc, selenium, vitamin C and vitamin E.
Certain nutrients have been studied specifically with regard to IVF or ICSI.
Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant and has been shown to increase fertility when given to both men and women. With men, vitamin E helps to increase fertilisation rates during ICSI treatments. If a woman over the age of 35 is told that her fertility problems are caused by her age, then it is likely that she could benefit from taking both vitamins E and C. These antioxidants have been shown to significantly reduce age-related ovulation decline.
Vitamin C is also an antioxidant and women who took vitamin C while they were undergoing IVF had a significantly increased pregnancy rate. Vitamin C is also good for men can it help to increase sperm counts by up to a third.
Antioxidants in general (and that includes zinc, selenium, vitamin C and vitamin E) have been shown to have a major impact on male fertility. A review of 34 studies with men going for IVF/ICSI cycles has shown that when men take antioxidants their partner is five times more likely to have a live birth compared to a placebo. So it is just as important that your partner takes good combinations of nutrients for fertility at the same time that you are while you are undergoing IVF.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Sometimes immune problems may be affecting a woman’s ability to get and stay pregnant during IVF treatment. The theory is that in order for her body to stay pregnant, her immune system has to quieten down because half the baby’s DNA is not hers. Normally if the body detects something foreign it aims to reject it and expel
it from the body. For some women, their immune systems do not quieten down and so they can’t get or stay pregnant.
One of the immune antibodies measured is called antiphospholipid antibodies (APAs). These blood-clotting antibodies can prevent implantation and cause recurrent miscarriage by attacking the cells that build the placenta. The medical treatment for this is blood thinners like aspirin and heparin. But research has shown that fish oil given to 22 women with APAs who already had 3 or more miscarriages went on to have 23 pregnancies (one woman has twins) without a miscarriage.
Vitamin D helps to balance the immune system which as we have seen is important in getting and staying pregnant while undergoing IVF. Vitamin D, like the omega 3 fatty acids, decreases the Th1 autoimmune response but it also helps to promote the Th2 cells which the woman’s body needs to maintain a pregnancy. It has been reported that by deliberately making mice deficient in vitamin D they can actually become infertile.
It is important that any vitamin and mineral deficiencies are corrected before you go for your IVF cycle. A comprehensive blood test Nutritional Profile MGL4 (blood) will show you what supplements you should be taking for both you and your partner.
Where to Start?
Make sure you are eating well and it is beneficial to know what vitamins and minerals you should be taking to prepare for the next IVF cycle. If you would like personalised advice on what to do next then request a consultation with one of our qualified nutritionists.