When going through IVF, we basically want to do anything and everything we can to make sure that we get the best possible results. Eating healthy and cutting out bad habits are just some of the things we do to better our chances of getting pregnant. We know a healthy lifestyle can increase our chances of IVF working, but have you heard of some of the old wives’ tales that claim to help as well?
The tricks are such easy, cheap things anyone can do. The question is, do they really have any proven results showing that they actually work? Well sort of…
1. Eat McDonald’s French fries after embryo transfer
Now this one could be a little bit of a stretch, but the science behind it seems to indicate that the higher sodium content helps with alleviating symptoms of Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS). So, eating French fries or other salty foods would really only be helpful for a fresh embryo transfer for that reason.
Another theory is that they simply make us happy. Fried foods are a big no-no in trying to conceive, but if you’ve been on your best behavior, one-time post-transfer can’t hurt. Everything in moderation, I like to say.
French fries and other salty foods are often considered comfort foods. IVF can be so incredibly stressful, a little pick me up in the form of a nice salty snack is warranted – but again, just as a one-off experience. Remind yourself that this is your reward for being good for so long and allowing yourself to have a cheat snack or meal…just this once!
2. Wear warm socks throughout your cycle
I don’t know about you, but my feet are ALWAYS COLD. I also have zero carpeting in my house and no matter how hot it is outside; the floors are always ice cold. I never really thought anything of it until I started going through IVF.
Everyone going through IVF seemed to have these cute socks. I just figured, oh it’s just something people do for good luck because you can keep your socks on during IVF procedures.
It’s not until I began reading up on Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) that I realized there was more to it than just as a symbol of good luck. In TCM, cold feet symbolize a cold womb (or uterus). A cold uterus basically means that you are lacking circulation in that area, which can have an effect on ovulation and implantation.
Symptoms of a cold uterus are cold hands and feet, spotting before your period, clots during menstruation, menstrual cramps that feel better with heat, poor libido, repeated miscarriages, infertility, anovulation, lower back pains, low basal body temperature, and/or hypothyroidism.
So, ultimately, the idea here is that wearing socks to keep your feet warm means that the blood that would otherwise need to go to your feet to try to warm them can now circulate to your uterus to warm it instead. A warm uterus is thought to be ideal for regular ovulation and implantation.
3. Eat pineapple cores
There aren’t a whole lot of people that can say that they don’t like pineapples, but have you ever tried the core? Not so great, I have to say. I mean it’s not the worst thing I’ve ever eaten, and if it means increased chances of getting pregnant, then I’d definitely grin and bear it.
Honestly, I’m making it out to be worse than it is. It’s just a bit harder (to be expected), less packed with pineapple tasting goodness and it’s a bit grainy, but otherwise it’s really not that bad.
The reason why pineapple is good to eat before (post-ovulation, but pre-menstruation) and during (post-retrieval, but pre-embryo transfer) IVF treatments is because of the bromelain in them. Bromelain has been said to help with implantation. It acts as a blood thinner, pain reliever, anti-coagulant and is anti-inflammatory.
Eating a slice with the core per day is what is recommended. If you do choose to try this, eating fresh pineapple is better than canned, as the canning process can deplete the bromelain.
4. Watch funny movies after embryo transfer
There is something to be said for a stress-free, positive mindset after an embryo transfer. It is important in all phases of IVF, but most important during the embryo transfer phase. So, watching movies that serve as stress-relief may help to create a good environment for the little guys or gals.
Stress can create surges of hormones like epinephrine or cortisol. It is possible that reducing stress and alleviating these hormone surges can help with implantation by enhancing proteins in the uterine lining. The stress reduction can also cause an increased blood flow to the uterus, which as we talked about earlier, can help with implantation.
So, make sure you’re not binge watching some sort of dramatic show about murder or any scary movies at this time.
5. Drink pomegranate juice
Pomegranates are considered to be a fertility superfood. They’re packed with vitamins and minerals and are filled with potent antioxidants, all of which are important in your fertility health. The pomegranate has been long revered as a symbol of fertility and general health. Long before we even knew exactly what made this fruit so wonderful, it was being used for a variety of medicinal uses.
Pomegranates are packed with vitamin A, vitamin B5, vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin E, fiber, folic acid and magnesium. It’s thought that the combination of these and other components found in pomegranates are helpful in balancing estrogen and progesterone levels. It can also help with a healthy sex drive, which can naturally be depleted from the baby-making process alone. Lastly, and maybe most importantly, it’s been known to increase blood flow to the uterus. This is important in making a thicker linking, one that can support a healthy pregnancy.
Most women drink 1 full 8-ounce glass a day to reap the benefits. Be aware that some juices contain a good amount of sugar. It is naturally sweet, however it’s important to make sure that if you’re drinking pomegranate juice, you make sure you’re buying 100% pomegranate juice. A lot of juices contain added sugars.
6. Eat Brazil nuts
Brazil nuts are packed with selenium. Selenium has long been known to help with male fertility, but it’s only recently been discovered to aid female fertility as well. It’s an antioxidant that helps free radicals from damaging cells. This is very important in egg quality.
The female egg takes about 70-90 days to fully mature. It’s important to pack your body with nutrients that help to improve egg quality for at least this time period to produce the best results for egg retrievals that you can.
One single brazil nut is your serving per day. The reason for this is because the amount of selenium in a single nut is about 70-80 mcg. That’s around the recommended amount per day. Too much selenium can have damaging effects, so be sure to stay within the limit.
7. Acupuncture before and after transfer
We’ve been talking a lot about stress relief and blood flow here when it comes to implantation. Acupuncture is known to help with both. I know a lot of people feel a little weird about getting needles poked all over them, but it really is pretty painless and has little to no side effects. And remember, it’s a practice that’s been around for THOUSANDS of years.
Ideally, you want to see the acupuncturist for 3 months prior to any procedures to properly prepare your body, but at the very least you want to have acupuncture just before transfer, and just after transfer.
Acupuncture is used to restore the flow and helps to resolve issues causing illnesses like ones that cause infertility. From a Western medicine point of view, acupuncture helps your body to release endorphins, which can help reduce stress and plays a role in regulating menstruation. It has also been shown to be as effective as drugs like clomiphene citrate in egg production, for those that either can’t take the drug or want to try using an alternative method first.
Acupuncture is also known to enhance blood flow, which can help with the uterine lining (aiding implantation) and also helps the ovaries produce more follicles.
As a supplement to fertility treatments, it has been shown to have higher success rates (in both pregnancies and live birth rates), as compared to those that just do Western fertility treatments like IVF alone.
Speaking for myself, I can say that these are all enjoyable, cheap and easy methods you can try that can actually have a positive impact on fertility treatments. Anyone that wants to argue with me about eating some McDonald’s French fries post transfer has an uphill battle, because they are some of my most favorite things in the world that I otherwise deprive myself of. The rest of the items on the list are extremely healthy habits and can’t hurt to try, so give it a go!
So now that you’ve read this article, you can put what you’ve learned here into practice immediately and increase your chances of getting pregnant.
Resource 1: Take our Fertility Quiz
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The information in this document has not been evaluated by the FDA and is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure any disease.