Mala and Karan, aged 31 and 35 respectively, were married for five years without a baby and had almost lost hope for experiencing parenthood. They had been trying naturally for the first two years and had visited various gynaecologists since then. Due to continuous pressure from family and friends, the couple finally decided to go for IVF (in-vitro fertilisation) to conceive. However, the stress and the disappointment over the years of not conceiving naturally had taken away their happiness. Post several counselling sessions, they realised that they had to be mentally and physically fit before undertaking the treatment and this required planning.
Over the past few years, the uptake of assisted reproductive techniques (ART) to conceive has grown exponentially in India along with the rise in infertility cases. Studies reported that more than 100,000 IVF cycles are performed annually in India. Today, advancements in technology enable conception and childbirth in infertility conditions that were previously thought to be untreatable. Conditions which were considered hopeless before like aspirating sperms from testes, giving pregnancies to women with absent ovaries, or women with menopause and genetic defects are now treatable.
In spite of achieving the impossible, success in IVF cannot be assured completely as the implantation and growth of a healthy embryo in the mother’s uterus is a complex process involving numerous blood connections, tissue developments and immune reactions. It is important for the couple to understand the process of IVF and plan their treatment accordingly. While 70% of the couples visiting the centre have a fair idea of IVF treatment, its procedure, the side effects and the finances involved, very few are aware that they have to plan and prepare well ahead of the treatment.
How To Prepare For An IVF Cycle
Proper preparation before each cycle of IVF will increase the chances of a successful outcome, reduce the side effects from fertility drugs and help the mother’s body to quickly recover afterwards. The planning for IVF can to be classified in three keys areas, namely, nutritional, physical and mental.
Nutritional: A healthy diet and adequate hydration ensure that the body is in good shape for the treatment. Taking necessary vitamins and minerals improves metabolism, which in turn brings on good quality sperms and eggs. For instance, folic acid is known to significantly help in building foetal tissues.
Physical: Being overweight or underweight can affect the chances of getting pregnant through IVF. Overweight or obese women often have problems with ovulation. Obesity in men has detrimental effects on sperm motility and erectile function. These issues should be rectified gradually in order to conceive healthy baby. Regular exercise in complement to a balanced diet helps with keeping one’s weight in check.
Mental: There are various changes that an IVF cycle brings about in a woman’s body and life. Reducing the levels of stress through adequate sleep and meditation is helpful. Spending quality time with family and providing emotional support to each other help keep both partners relaxed before and after the treatment. Alternatively, couples can opt for counselling for anxiety as panic attacks disturb the hormonal balance and affect the quality of life in general.
The importance of the couple being prepared from emotional stability to health and finances is very vital to attain a successful pregnancy through IVF. Some guidelines to follow before an IVF treatment are given below.
In short, proper diet, positive thinking, healthy lifestyle, regular exercise and support from family and friends help the couple who is undergoing the treatment to prepare well in advance to handle the stress and pain during the journey of IVF.