So you have found yourself deciding to pursue In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). You are not alone. Over six million people in the U.S.A. currently seek fertility treatments, including IVF. People just as healthy, strong, successful, and intelligent as you are have found themselves needing to find a fertility boost. Now that you have chosen IVF it is important to prepare your body for the procedure.
If you are reading up on how to boost your success rate with IVF, you are likely aware that the treatment is a costly procedure. According to the American Society of Reproductive Medicine, the average cost in the U.S.A. was a little over $12,000.
This is not a price that many couples can afford to repeat. Moreover, only about 1 in 3 IVF procedures result in a live pregnancy, suggesting that repeat attempts may indeed be necessary. In that sense, providing the best possible environment for the egg within the ovaries will vastly increase the success of the procedure.
By reducing your exposure to harmful substances, nourishing your body with fertility boosting foods, finding hormonal balance and acquiring new ways of handling stress will all augment the effectiveness of the procedure.
When Should I Begin?
For natural fertility enhancing methods to be most effective, I suggest beginning at least 90 days before you begin the IVF process. There are two reasons for this. First, some of the methods include herbs and supplements that should not be taken in conjunction with the six week duration of the IVF process. Additionally, in order for your body to get the maximum benefits from most of the natural fertility boosters, you will need to use them for about 3 months. Second, while a woman does release an egg with each menstrual cycle, that egg has spent ninety days maturing within her ovaries. If you can make your body more hospitable during the 90 days of the maturation process, you will be able to increase the health and viability of the egg you collect.
Step 1: Cleanse And Massage For Fertility
In today’s world, chemicals and toxins abound. They are in our houses, our clothing, the air we breathe and often our food. The store themselves in the fatty tissues of our body and can affect our physical health and functioning. Toxins that very specifically affect fertility are synthetic hormones from hormonal birth control, chemicals used in cigarette production, pesticides and alcohol.
A fertility cleanse increases circulation to the uterus and promotes the shedding of uterine lining that was not shed in a previous cycle. It also expands the liver’s ability to rid the body of excess hormones and stored toxins. While general cleansing or detox program may also assist in overall physical functioning, a cleanse specifically formulated for fertility will more adequately meet your needs by preparing the uterus, targeting on removing toxins that specifically impede fertility and providing hormonal balance crucial for fertility success. There are many natural fertility cleanse kits on the market and they consist mostly of a combination of herbal supplements and fertility aiding teas.
Woman who are cleansing for fertility should also be encouraged to incorporate fertility massage into their IVF preparation. Fertility massage is a special type of abdominal massage that incorporates several massage techniques including: Asian organ massage (Chi Nei Tsang), deep tissue massage, myofacial release, acupressure and reflexology.
Fertility massage can be helpful in increasing blood supply and circulation to a woman’s reproductive area, clearing blocked fallopian tubes, loosening scar tissue in the reproductive area, assisting the liver in ridding the body of toxins and excess hormones, and loosening stuck or impacted fecal material.
For a successful fertility massage, it is important to contact a massage therapist who has experience with fertility massage or abdominal massage or you can also purchase a DVD with instructions on Self Fertility Massage.
Step 2: Eating For Fertility
You will be pleased to know that eating for fertility is not that difficult, but it may take a little more time to prepare your food each day. In our busy lives we are used to picking up food on the run or, if you already have small children, having very little time to prepare meals to start with. However, nutrition must be a priority because it alone can have a significant impact on increasing and maximizing a person’s fertility. The fertility diet basically incorporates the following:
- Lots of vegetables and fruits – but make them organic. It is important to limit yourself to pesticides used in conventional food production as much as possible. Yet, organic foods can be expensive, so if you are on a budget, at least make sure you are buying organic for the “dirty dozen“.
- Eat organic, grass-fed, whole fat and, if possible, raw dairy. Avoid conventional dairy at all costs as it usually contains added hormones and antibiotics. If you can’t eat dairy, stay away from soy, but use almond or hemp milk. Almond milk is fairly easy and inexpensive to make yourself if you have dairy allergies.
- Cold Water Fish high in DHA. Avoid fish from deep waters and farmed salmon.
- Organic, grass-fed and/or cage free meats. Like dairy, conventionally raised meats often contain added hormones or antibiotics.
- Whole Grains – if possible eat them in their most natural forms and stay away from processed grains like white breads, rice and pasta.
- Make high fiber foods a part of each meal.
- Stay away from soy! This is especially important for women because soy has estrogen-like qualities that can inhibit fertility. Some fermented forms may be eaten such as miso or tempeh.
- No refined or processed sugars and no processed beverages. Instead try honey, agave, pure maple syrup or stevia.
- Drink LOTS of water. Try to drink half your body weight in ounces each day. Avoid tap water which may contain pesticides and other chemicals. Avoid water in plastic bottles as the plastic may leach hormones.
- Avoid non-natural sweets (anything that isn’t fruit), caffeine and GMO foods. If you can’t grow it naturally, don’t eat or drink it.
- No Cigarettes, No Alcohol. This should need no explanation.
- Include a diet of natural fertility supplements such as maca, bee pollen, royal jelly, spirulina, primrose oil, chasteberry, flaxseed oil and wheat grass.
Step 3: Focusing On Fertility
Few of us realize how much the stress of our daily lives can impact our fertility. It is important to create a balanced, welcoming environment for an egg, and later, a developing baby. In order to do this, it is crucial to find ways to promote mental, physical and emotional harmony in your daily life. There are many means to do this. It is important to find one or a few that provide the right combination for you.
First, exercise is key. Exercise boosts your mood (emotional), relieves stress (mental and physical) and increases circulation. Gentle forms of exercise that promote strength, flexibility and stabilize the core, such as yoga and pilates, are highly recommended in preparing for an IVF cycle. There are even DVD’s for purchase that offer instruction on fertility enhancing yoga poses. However, it is important to incorporate some forms of cardio and strength training to increase circulation and improve organ functioning.
Second, incorporating a mind-body technique to promote relaxation and stress release can be helpful. Such techniques can include visualization, hypnosis, meditation, Reiki, counseling, and prayer. Finding practitioners who have experience treating someone with fertility issues can be helpful. Acupuncture used before, during, and after an IVF cycle has been shown to greatly improve the odds of resulting in a live pregnancy.
The road to IVF is not easy. Most that travel it experience frustration, stress and heartbreak. Using natural preparation methods making lifestyle changes will give you a fertility boost and a clean space to prepare, grow and harvest a potential little one. I wish all of you joy and peace on your fertility journey.
Rachel Reeves is a mother of two, a doula, childbirth educator, a breastfeeding counselor and an M.S.W. She has lived in Palestine, Honduras, and most recently Seoul, South Korea. She currently resides in Michigan in the U.S.A and enjoys supporting women, teaching classes and writing about anything birth, baby or parenting related.