When trying to conceive, it is important for you both to be as healthy as possible and by doing so, you will maximise the chances of a successful assisted conception outcome.
The National Institute for Clinical Effectiveness (NICE) Guidelines on Fertility investigations and treatments reviewed the available research and concluded that certain lifestyle choices could affect the chances of success. Many of these recommendations have been incorporated into the Health Commission Wales NHS treatment criteria.
There are certain areas of health on which you should concentrate:
- Research has shown that people who are severely overweight or underweight have a reduced chance of assisted conception being successful. Your BMI must be between 19- 30 at the time of IVF treatment. You should consult your GP if you have problems losing weight.
- Smoking in either partner reduces the chance of successful treatment, [consult your GP for advice on smoking cessation] you must both be non smoking at the time of IVF Treatment.
- Regular excessive alcohol consumption in either partner reduces the chance of success.
- It is also important that you should carry out regular health checks, such as breast self-examination (female) and testicular self-examination (male).
- Ensure smear tests are up to date, if you have an abnormal result, it is important this is sorted out first, and fertility treatment and pregnancy should be delayed.
- The female partner should ensure that she is immune to Rubella (German Measles) as this virus can cause problems with the baby's development , this is usually checked at the clinic if it has not been done by your GP. If you are not immune you will need vaccination before the treatment starts.
- A healthy well-balanced diet is important in both partners.
- Taking folic acid supplements (female) three months before trying to get pregnant and for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy has been shown to reduce the chances of a baby being born with neural tube defects, such as spina bifida. The recommended daily dose is 400micrograms per day. Folic acid can be purchased in any chemist or supermarket. A higher dose may be needed if there is a history of spina bifida in the family or you have a medical condition such as epilepsy where certain medication increases the chances of this occurring, this can only be obtained on prescription.
- Check for hazards in your workplace e.g. chemicals, physical activities that may contribute in some cases to sub-fertility.
- Take sufficient exercise and rest.
- Try to reduce anxiety by:
- getting the right information about investigations and treatment
- talking to and supporting each other
- seeking counselling (available on request at the Centre)
- engaging in activities which you both find enjoyable
- contacting or joining national / local support groups.