Increasing your IVF success rate

About one in four Nigerian couples suffer from infertility, or the inability to conceive despite having regular unprotected sex. Some turn to assisted reproductive technology (ART) as a fertility treatment option.

What we mean by ART includes all fertility treatments in which either eggs, sperm or embryos are handled. Nowadays, a significant number of children born in Nigeria every year are conceived using ART, and its use is increasing.

One of the most common forms of ART is in-vitro fertilisation (IVF). During an IVF procedure, eggs are surgically retrieved from your ovaries, fertilised with sperm in a lab and inserted back into your uterus.

If you decide to try IVF, you may not simply be looking for good thoughts and crossed fingers. Instead, you want facts. The success rate of embryo transfer using your own eggs could range from 41.6 per cent if you are under 35 down to 2.96 per cent if you are older than 42 years.

If you’re looking to increase your chances of conceiving during IVF, there are basic steps that you can take. Start by maintaining a healthy weight. Weight is extremely important in fertility and IVF. Being obese (BMI above 35) and underweight (BMI below 19) affects IVF success rates. Being overweight also makes monitoring the ovaries during IVF more difficult and increases the chance of complications during egg retrievals. Getting to a healthy weight can be achieved through changes in diet and activity, and with professional help if necessary.

Optimising sperm health is important and this can be achieved with the use of multivitamins and maintaining optimal body weight, as well as using boxers over briefs. Under appropriate care, men can also be started on medications that can help boost general wellbeing, which can have a beneficial impact on IVF outcomes. In certain cases, sperm aspirated directly from the testicle over ejaculation could also be beneficial.

Choosing an excellent reproductive physician is crucial. In addition to experience and commitment to evidence-based medicine, look for someone with whom you feel comfortable and connected. Your doctor and his team will accompany you on this very emotional journey and it is important for you to feel supported and heard. Asking for recommendations from friends and family who know you best can help guide you to a knowledgeable physician with whom you feel comfortable, but also be sure to do your research. It is important that the clinic has a good embryology laboratory, with a long history of exceptional outcomes.

Whatever you do, reduce your stress. Basal stress levels can influence natural and assisted conception rates, so reducing stress troubles during an IVF stimulation cycle can be one of the hardest things to achieve for couples. Habits like smoking are not good for fertility, so if you smoke, you should quit.

Smoking can drastically decrease the chance of success while doing IVF because it affects egg and sperm quality. Quitting is not an easy task and often requires a great deal of personal as well as professional support. You may also look into taking supplements that can help boost egg quantity and quality. Ensure that you have adequate levels of Vitamin D

If you are doing IVF, you definitely need to focus on persistence and patience. You may require more than one cycle of IVF to achieve an embryo for transfer and outcomes may vary significantly from cycle to cycle. If your first cycle wasn’t successful, your doctor may be able to adjust the treatment to optimise a subsequent one. Other times, it just means keeping at it.

Try not to be discouraged by suboptimal outcomes and setbacks. Take care of yourself and don’t blame yourself when things don’t go well. You are not alone; it often takes a village to build a family.

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