If you plan on undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF), it is helpful to understand the process from beginning to end, including what you can do to maximize your chances of success. IVF treatment is a complex procedure that takes place over multiple weeks, which can easily leave an unprepared patient feeling confused or lost. At our Los Angeles fertility center, we hope to make your experience as straightforward and satisfying as possible. To this end, we offer the following instructions and suggestions for you and your partner, prior to IVF treatment.
Before fertility treatment can begin, the doctor must be able to calculate the factors that may help or hinder your odds of success. These factors are contributed by both the male and female partner, and are a strong determinant of what patients can expect from the IVF process. Therefore, a series of diagnostic screenings will be performed during the initial consultation or shortly thereafter, including:
- Uterine exam: The uterine cavity will be examined to determine its general health and condition. This may be performed with a small camera attached to a flexible tube, which is inserted into the uterus through the vagina, or it may be performed through a combination of fluid injection and ultrasound imaging.
- Ovarian testing: The woman’s eggs will be screened quantitatively and qualitatively to determine how many healthy eggs are available for fertilization. This is accomplished through a blood sample, which is taken at the beginning of a menstrual cycle.
- Semen analysis: If the man has not previously received information on his sperm count and health, a semen analysis is a good way to help identify his role in the fertility process.
- Health exam: The general health of both partners should also be evaluated before IVF treatment. With a blood test, doctors can determine which conditions may impact the procedure’s results, such as glandular functions, hormone levels, and exposure to infectious diseases.
Improving Your Success
When you decide to conceive, with or without IVF, it is helpful to engage in positive health habits. Not only will these habits improve your ability to conceive, but they will also help ensure a healthy and unproblematic pregnancy. Some of the best things you can do to prepare for IVF also happen to be good general guidelines for everyday life:
- Maintain a healthy weight: Overweight and underweight patients are both less likely to conceive. Try to also maintain a stable weight prior to and throughout treatment.
- Eat well: Keep a healthy, balanced diet that is high in protein, fruits and vegetables, and whole-grains. Limit foods and drinks that are high in caffeine, cholesterol, and sugar.
- Engage in moderate exercise: Regular exercise is a great way to promote good health, but patients who engage in exercise too frequently or strenuously may actually hurt their chances of conceiving. Speak with your doctor for a more personal analysis of your physical lifestyle.
- Avoid alcohol and tobacco: Tobacco products and excessive alcohol consumption can both play a negative role in conception and the ensuing pregnancy.
- Avoid medications and supplements: Your doctor may prescribe medication or recommend nutritional supplements for pre-treatment. Outside of these specific recommendations, however, you should cease the use of any additional drugs, vitamins, or herbal supplements, as they may interfere with the IVF process.
Preparation for IVF
Before eggs are retrieved for IVF, a series of hormone injections or medications are often used to simulate ideal fertilization conditions. These preparations tend to vary, as patients can have dramatically different needs. Typically, women are given multiple injections to stimulate the ovaries; this helps produce more than one egg at a time, which in turn increases the odds of an embryo successfully attaching to the uterine wall. Medication may also be administered to prevent premature ovulation, help regulate when the eggs mature, or prepare the uterine lining for egg retrieval and embryo transfer.
The timing of these medications is a crucial part of the IVF process, which can directly affect whether the initial fertilization and embryo transfer is successful. Patients should therefore take careful note of their doctor’s instructions, in order to complete each step on time and prepare for the next stage of treatment.
Schedule Your Appointment with Us
Whether you are just considering IVF or are ready to begin treatment, we are eager to help you understand every facet of the process. Contact us to inquire about our fertility treatments or to schedule your initial consultation with one of our highly qualified doctors.