Some of the questions we are most frequently asked by women who are preparing for IVF include “What can I do to improve my chances” and “What can I do to stay safe during the process?” Women will offer to do anything, from going gluten-free to dye-free to preservative-free, to amp up their chances of seeing a smiley face on the “pee” stick. But the reality is, despite our best efforts to find some control in a frighteningly and frustratingly uncontrollable process, so much of what makes an IVF cycle a success or a failure is out of one’s control. So while we can’t tell you how to make sure it works we can tell you 7 ways to make sure you stay safe, sane and (fingers crossed) successful!
- Get your head in the game: Positive thinking is essential! Harping on what could go wrong or what has gone wrong in the past is not helpful; in fact, it could be detrimental. Hit up a support group; spending time with your peers can be super helpful when navigating a scary process. We also recommend engaging in any practices such as meditation, yoga, and exercise that will help keep you calm and centered. The exercise will need to be modified mid-IVF cycle but even then, walking, stretching and meditation are soothing.
- Breathing: Be aware of your breathing patterns. While we are fans of deep breathing and centering yourself, we are talking about shortness of breath. This can be a sign of overstimulation or in rare cases a blood clot and should be reported to your doctor during your IVF cycle.
- Bloating: Put your skinny jeans in the back of your closet, and say goodbye to them for about three weeks. The IVF medications will cause you to retain water. This will lead to bloating and some temporary (again, temporary) weight gain. We promise it will come off!
- Constipation: As your ovaries grow and your hormone levels rise, your digestive system will often slow down. This can lead to indigestion and constipation. Make an effort to increase your fiber content, and drink about one to one and a half liters of water a day from the get go, as this can help keep your system up and running!
- Urination: Most of us neither count how many times we urinate nor keep track of the color of our urine on a daily basis. However, when doing fertility treatments, it is important to pay attention to what’s streaming. Dehydration occurs more frequently; infrequent trips to the bathroom combined with dark urine can be signs that your tap is running dry.
- Ovaries: This will likely be the first time you feel your ovaries. While you always knew they were there, you probably never felt them as you walked, ran for the bus, or even lay on the couch. Be mindful of them, and note any severe abdominal pain. This could be a sign that the ovaries are twisting.
- Toes: Treat yourself to a pedicure! No seriously, do it! While you will definitely not find that advice in a medical textbook, being good to yourself will help you through this stressful and uncertain time.
We wish we had the magic bullet and knew the ingredients to the secret sauce, but much like the fountain of youth, the “It” action or practice simply does not exist. While we are big fans of good, healthy living, don’t beat yourself up for that can of diet soda or the glass of rosé—they aren’t the reason your IVF cycle didn’t work. Our tips may not ensure success, but they will definitely help make the journey smoother.