IVF & Beyond For Dummies

If you’ve been trying unsuccessfully to have a baby for some time, you may wonder whether IVF can help you to fulfil your baby dream. To begin with, you need to undergo some tests to establish the cause of your infertility. If IVF is an alternative for you and you decide to try treatment, your best bet for coping with the inevitable resultant ups and downs is to be well-prepared: The more you know about the physical, technical, emotional and financial aspects of infertility and IVF, the better you’ll fare on your IVF journey and beyond, when hopefully you’ll have a baby to love and care for.

Diagnosing an Infertility Problem: Is IVF for You?

If you’ve been trying for a baby for a year or more without luck, it’s time to tackle the problem and find out what you can do about it. Here are some facts about infertility and IVF to get you started:

  • You’re not alone: About 15 per cent of couples — nearly one in six — have difficulties conceiving. Over time, some of these couples will conceive spontaneously after trying for a long time, some will have a baby after undergoing infertility treatment or by adopting, and some will remain childless.

  • What’s the problem: Your doctor will order tests and investigations of you and your partner to pinpoint why you can’t conceive, because knowing the cause of infertility guides your treatment.

  • Causes of infertility: About one-third of infertility cases in couples are due to a male fertility problem, another third are due to a female fertility problem, and the final third are either due to both male and female fertility problems or of an unknown cause.

  • Why us: It’s normal to feel shocked, angry and sad when you discover that you’re infertile.

  • Low-tech options: Depending on the cause of your infertility, your doctor may suggest you try a low-tech fertility treatment alternative. If this treatment doesn’t work, your next option is usually IVF.

  • Time for IVF: For certain causes of infertility, IVF is the only way to help you have a family. If that’s the case for you, read up as much as you can about treatment, because being well-prepared is the best way to handle the highs and lows that inevitably accompany treatment.

Improving Your Chances of IVF Success

Research indicates that by getting into shape before you start IVF you can improve your odds of the treatment being successful. To boost your chances of overcoming infertility and falling pregnant, follow these rules:

  • Avoid smoking: Smokers have lower fertility than non-smokers and smoking reduces your chances of IVF success.

  • Don’t carry a lot of excess weight: Try to keep your body mass index (BMI) in the normal range of 18.5 to 25. A BMI higher than this can cause hormonal imbalances that disrupt ovulation and reduce sperm quality, which of course decrease the likelihood of conception, both spontaneous and with IVF. Don’t despair if you have a lot of weight to lose: Losing even just five to ten kilograms can greatly improve your chances of IVF success.

  • Follow a balanced diet: A well-balanced diet is essential not only for your health but also for the wellbeing of a growing foetus. The bulk of your daily diet should consist of cereals, pasta and rice. You should also have three to five servings of vegetables and two to four servings of fruit, and two to three servings each of low-fat dairy products and meat/poultry/fish/beans for protein. Finally, go easy on sweet goodies and fats.

  • Don’t consume too much caffeine: Women who consume a lot of caffeine — more than three cups of coffee per day — may take longer to conceive.

  • Restrict your alcohol intake: Alcohol is known to decrease fertility and increase the risk of miscarriage.

  • Take folic acid supplements: Getting enough folic acid before conception and during the early stages of pregnancy greatly reduces the risk of the baby having neural tube defects such as spina bifida.

  • Start IVF treatment ASAP: Age is IVF’s worst enemy. In a nutshell, your odds of having a successful pregnancy decrease dramatically as you approach age 40.



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