Call us today on +44 7897 035438
The beginning of an IVF cycle can be a daunting process. The volume of medication and time-sensitive instructions alone can feel like a lot when you’re trying to reduce stress and increase chances of success.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed or want to prepare for the stimulation phase of an IVF cycle, this article is for you. Keep reading to discover the key do’s and don’ts during IVF stimulation.
IVF stimulation involves taking fertility drugs for a number of days to encourage your ovaries to produce multiple eggs. Which medications you take and how long for varies according to your treatment protocol.
Knowledge is power. Understanding the role each medication plays and why it’s important for your cycle can help you visualise what’s happening, familiarise yourself with potential side effects, and help you feel more prepared.
Try to avoid going down forum rabbit holes of in vitro fertilisation (IVF) advice, but don’t hesitate to get in touch with your care team for questions or clarifications. We have plenty of information on our blog, and the Apricity app is full of medically-verified information tailored to each step of your journey. You can also use it to get instant access to a fertility advisor, 7 days a week.
Forgetting to take medication is a common problem in IVF cycles. Setting alarms and notifications can help, but sometimes, life gets in the way. On top of that, being stressed is stressful, and can result in forgetting about the very thing causing anxiety.
It is true that medication errors can have a negative impact on success rates, but forward planning can be a game-changer. The Apricity app notifies you of the time and dose you should take your medication, which hopefully saves you the trouble of creating complicated spreadsheets. But you can take it a few steps further.
Don’t wait until injection time to check your instructions and schedule. You want to ensure that you have the right stock in advance, and that all medication is being stored properly (some needs to be refrigerated), and that it fits into your schedule.
It may help to block your calendar around the times when you need to take medication, so you’re less likely to be distracted or mute notifications. Think about work and travel: do you need to make any medication arrangements? Ask your care team ahead of time what you should do if you miss a dose, so you’re not waiting around for an answer if it does happen.
There is one medication that you should be particularly careful with: the trigger injection (also known as the trigger shot). This injection is more time-sensitive, and needs to be taken 36 hours before egg collection. Your care team will instruct you the exact time to take it, but it’ll likely be in the evening. We ensure that an Apricity advisor is available at the time of the injection in case you have any last-minute questions.
Having a dedicated injection station or pack can be really helpful and time-saving. Make sure you have a sink with soap nearby to wash your hands, alcohol wipes to clean the injection site, a gauze or a bandaid in case there’s a little blood, and we’ll provide you with a special sharps bin to dispose of your used needles. If you’re worried about pain, you may also want to keep an ice pack nearby.
Vials of medication can break if they fall from a certain height, so make sure that it’s not easy for items to roll off any prep surface. Some people also find it helpful to use a paper notebook or calendar to tick off what and when was injected. You can also check off medication as you go on the Apricity app.
Our care team are on hand to help with medication queries and walk you through your injections on a video call if you’re feeling daunted by the prospect. We also have teaching videos available on our app.
Whether you’re undergoing treatment yourself, or providing eggs or sperm for an IVF cycle, optimising your overall health before and during a cycle is one of the best practices for IVF. Eating a well-balanced diet, taking vitamins and minerals (make sure you consult with your doctor first), exercising regularly, managing stress and getting good sleep are all ways you can boost your natural health and prepare your body for pregnancy.
Mental health is part of your health, too. Struggling to conceive is an emotionally draining process. The medication used in IVF treatment causes hormonal changes, which can increase anxiety or even depression for many women. It’s important to invest in your health and take all the steps that you can to find the right balance and support throughout the journey.
We offer unlimited supportive counselling within all of our treatment packages in hopes of being there when you need it most. The Fertility Network is also a great source of community, events and support.
Do: Know your risks
Like all medical procedures, IVF comes with a set of potential risks and complications. Generally, IVF is considered very safe, but it’s important for you to understand warning symptoms of conditions like ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS). While it’s very rare, OHSS can become serious if untreated, so knowing what to look out for is key.
Your care team will discuss potential side effects in detail, but don’t hesitate to reach out at any point if you have any questions or concerns. Our fertility advisors are on call seven days a week for that exact reason.
Exercise offers a wide range of wonderful health benefits. There’s no need to stop exercising during IVF stimulation, although you should be careful with the type of exercise you do. Moderate and low-impact exercises are totally fine and encouraged, but high-intensity, strenuous exercise should be avoided.
If you need to lose weight, it’s important that you do so before starting your cycle. An IVF cycle is not an ideal time to be in a calorie deficit.
Exercising before you start your IVF cycle is helpful too. Aside from helping to manage the stress that’s so common to fertility struggles, a study found that exercising before IVF and ICSI cycles increased rates of clinical pregnancy and live birth.
Most people know that pregnant women should not drink. But alcohol and fertility do not go hand in hand either.
It’s unclear if and how a glass of wine every few days hinders the IVF stimulation process specifically. However, studies have consistently shown that even moderate drinking is associated with lower IVF success rates. UK health officials advise against all alcohol when trying to conceive.
Alcohol is known to harm sperm quality in men as well. If you’re in a couple where a man is using his sperm within an IVF cycle, it’s important for him to avoid alcohol (and other toxins) as well.
Focussing on specific foods to eat and avoid can be detrimental if it turns into strict routines that cause stress. But there are some things – like high levels of sugar – that are linked with lower chances of success.
A high-sugar diet has been consistently linked to lower fertility in both men and women. In one study led by the Boston University School of Public Health found that drinking just one or more sugar-sweetened beverages per day – by either a man or a woman in a couple trying to conceive – was linked to lower chances of pregnancy. A small study at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston also found that a higher intake of sugary soda was associated with a lower rate of high-quality embryos after stimulation.
Focusing on a diet that’s rich in nutrients and low in sugar helps to meet the overall goal of staying as strong and healthy as possible during your IVF stimulation. As such, it also pays to avoid junk or overly sugary food, inflammatory foods, anything that’s easily contaminated or anything that’s known to give you stomach issues. Our advisors remain on hand to help with any questions you may have.
From planning injections and appointments, trying to manage schedules and stress, while continuing your day-to-day life can feel overwhelming. It’s natural to want to control everything in hopes of giving yourself the very best chances of success.
Taking a step back, when it comes to the do's and don'ts during IVF, most things are OK in moderation. Your goal shouldn’t be to follow every piece of advice you find on the internet, but to live your life while you try to create one. With a little forward planning and a lot of support, we hope to make the process as convenient and manageable as possible for you. Should you have any questions, we’re always a call away.
Rao Meng, Zhengyan Zeng, Li Tang. “Maternal physical activity before IVF/ICSI cycles improves clinical pregnancy rate and live birth rate: a systematic review and meta-analysis.” Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology, vol. 16, no. 11, 2018. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5803901. Accessed 20 October 2023.
Rossi, MD, Brooke V., et al. “Effect of Alcohol Consumption on In Vitro Fertilization.” Obstetrics & Gynecology, vol. 117, no. 1, 2011. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, https://journals.lww.com/greenjournal/abstract/2011/01000/effect_of_alcohol_consumption_on_in_vitro.20.aspx. Accessed 20 October 2023.
(n.d.). Drugs, alcohol and trying to conceive. Tommy’s. https://www.tommys.org/pregnancy-information/planning-a-pregnancy/are-you-ready-to-conceive/drugs-alcohol-and-trying-conceive. Accessed 20 October 2023.
Jensen, Tina Kold, et al. “Habitual alcohol consumption associated with reduced semen quality and changes in reproductive hormones; a cross-sectional study among 1221 young Danish men.” BMJ Open, 2014. National Library of Medicine, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4185337. Accessed 20 October 2023.
Machtinger, Ronit, et al. “Association between preconception maternal beverage intake and in vitro fertilization outcomes.” Fertility and Sterility, vol. 108, no. 6, 2017, pp. 1026-1033. Fertility and Sterility, https://www.fertstert.org/article/S0015-0282(17)31911-8/fulltext#%20. Accessed 20 October 2023.
Written by our group of fertility experts and doctors consultants
Written by our group of fertility experts and doctors consultants
New Patients: 9am - 5pm Mon-Fri
Current Patient Care: 7am - 9pm Mon-Fri & 9am-1pm Sat/Sun/Bank Hols
Ⓒ Apricity Fertility UK Limited. All rights reserved