How to Increase Chances of Successful IVF?Fertility Treatment
Today, numerous couples wish to have a child, but despite all their efforts, they cannot conceive naturally. Fortunately, there have been great advances in fertility treatments during the last decades, and infertile couples can now become parents by using assisted reproductive technologies (ART) such as IVF or IUI.
In vitro fertilization, commonly referred to as IVF, is a practical ART method through which an egg is fertilized in the laboratory using the male partner's sperm (or donor sperm). Then, the resulting embryo is transferred to the woman's uterus, and hopefully, the pregnancy starts. This article discusses how to increase your chance of IVF success.
How to Increase My Chance of IVF Success?
There are several factors to be considered to increase your chance of IVF success:
- Do IVF while you are under the age of 35. The younger you are, the higher your chance of getting pregnant through IVF;
- Choose the right fertility center;
- Choose an experienced and well-known fertility specialist;
- Ask your doctor to re-check everything before embryo transfer;
- Take PGS and PGD tests;
- Take folic acid supplements and multivitamins;
- Take necessary blood tests before embryo transfer;
- Avoid coughing and sneezing during the transfer.
In the following, the above factors are explained in detail:
Maternal Age and IVF Success Rate
Younger women have a higher chance of having a successful IVF pregnancy and giving birth to a healthy baby. In other words, younger eggs are usually of better quality and increase the success rate of IVF. Based on the maternal age, the success rate of IVF is:
- 18-13% for women over 40 years old;
- 23-27% for women between the age of 38 and 40;
- 36-33% for women between the age of 35 and 37;
- 41-43% for women under 35 years old.
Choose a Right Fertility Center
Fertility clinics differ according to their specialists' skill and experience, laboratory facilities, and embryo freezing centers. Accordingly, in order to have a successful IVF, it is essential to choose a well-equipped fertility center.
Some factors should be considered when choosing the right fertility center:
- Clinic's reputation and reviews;
- IVF cost in the clinic;
- The success rate in each embryo transfer;
- IVF pregnancy success rate in couples with similar age and conditions to yours;
- The number of successful multiple pregnancies; and
- How long will the clinic preserve the embryo?
Yazd Reproductive Sciences Institute (YRSI), one of the best fertility centers in Iran, welcomes Iranian and foreign patients seeking fertility treatment. This clinic is considered one of the first ones in the country in which ART methods were developed and practiced.
Choose an Experienced Fertility Specialist
IVF is expensive and time-consuming; therefore, choosing a skilled fertility specialist is necessary to prevent further expenses. Although IVF and embryo transfer are standard and feasible procedures nowadays, the doctor's experience in these fields will affect the result of the operation.
Re-check Everything before Transfer Embryo
Speed and accuracy during embryo transfer are essential in increasing the chance of IVF success. Therefore, ask your doctor to check all your tests and procedures once before transferring the embryo so that if you need further treatments, you do it before the transfer stage. By doing so, the embryo will be transferred with higher speed and accuracy.
Take PGD and PGS Tests
Since chromosomal and genetic disorders are the leading causes of miscarriage, taking PGS and PGD tests can increase your chance of IVF success. We should note that pre-implantation genetic screening (PGS) and pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) aim to check for chromosomal and genetic disorders. After being tested, the embryos with normal genetic characteristics are selected and transferred to the mother's uterus. Taking PGD and PGS eliminates the risk of implantation failure and, as a result, increases the chance of having a healthy child and successful IVF.
Take Folic Acid Supplements and Multivitamins
Taking folic acid supplements and multivitamins should be started three months before embryo transfer. Recent investigations have concluded that taking folic acid by both partners keeps the embryo healthy and increases the possibility of having multiple births. It is suggested to take supplements that contain folic acid, vitamin D, and B. Needless to say, and you should consult your doctor about the type and dosage of supplements before taking them.
Some supplements which increase the chance of IVF pregnancy include:
- Vitamin A and B6: for the production of sex hormones in men;
- Vitamin B12: to prevent low sperm count, low sperm motility, and sperm abnormal morphology;
- Vitamin C: to prevent free radical damage;
- Zinc: for sperm production, estrogen reduction, and testosterone metabolism;
- Selenium: to maintain the number of sperms and their standard shape;
- Manganese: to prevent low sperm count, congenital abnormalities, and testicular degeneration;
- Coenzyme Q10: to produce energy, improve blood flow, and increase fertility; and
- Amino acids: for boosting egg and sperm production.
Take the Necessary Tests before Embryo Transfer
It is recommended to provide a complete medical record before embryo transfer. If your egg and sperm are used for IVF, it is necessary to take hormone and sperm tests and check the fallopian tubes, ovaries, and uterus. Also, if a donor egg and sperm are used in IVF, they should be tested before the start of the IVF procedure. Having your fallopian tubes, ovaries, and uterus checked is crucial before performing IVF with a donor egg/sperm/embryo.
Avoid Coughing and Sneezing
Coughing or sneezing after embryo transfer cannot cause the embryo to move or come out of the uterus, but you shouldn't cough and sneeze when the catheter is in your cervix. So, if you had a severe allergy or cold on the day of the transfer, be sure to inform your doctor.
What Is Necessary for a Successful IVF?
A successful IVF highly depends on the physical condition of the couple. For this reason, before starting the IVF procedure, the doctor asks the couple to perform a complete checkup to check the following:
- Preparation of the uterus for implantation;
- Preparation of fallopian tubes;
- Having healthy ovaries;
- Having enough ovarian reserve;
- The proper size of the follicles for IVF;
- Having healthy and motile sperms;
- Having a healthy lifestyle;
- Reducing stress, or at least knowing how to manage it;
- Not taking medications that interfere with fertility drugs.
In the following, each factor mentioned above is explained in detail.
Preparing the Uterus for Implantation
Before starting the IVF process, the doctor examines the uterus by ultrasound, X-ray, or hysteroscopy to identify threatening factors such as fibroids, scar tissue, wounds, and polyps. Each of these factors alone can prevent embryo implantation and lead to miscarriage. Also, before IVF, the doctor tests to ensure that the mother-to-be doesn't have genital diseases such as endometriosis, chronic fallopian tube infection, and disorders interfering with implantation. If the mother has one of these diseases by chance, she should take medications or undergo surgeries to resolve her problem.
Preparing the Fallopian Tubes and Not Having Hydrosalpinx
If the fallopian tubes get blocked, they fill with clear fluid and make hydrosalpinx (fluid-filled tubes). Unfortunately, hydrosalpinx reduces the probability of IVF success by 50%; therefore, it is recommended to ensure that your fallopian tubes are empty of fluid before embryo transfer.
Having Healthy Ovaries
IVF's success also depends on the quality and quantity of eggs. As a result, your doctor may prescribe you supplements such as coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), omega-3, and amino acid L-Arginine long before starting the IVF procedure. Moreover, taking multivitamins containing vitamin D and C also increases the chances of successful IVF. Of course, taking dietary supplements and IVF medication simultaneously is not advised. You should have finished taking supplements at least three months before taking IVF medications.
Having Enough Ovarian Reserve
The key to successful IVF has enough ovarian reserve. Your IVF specialist probably asks you to take multiple blood tests and performs an ultrasound to estimate the number of eggs in your ovaries. A blood test on the second or third day of your period can determine the amount of follicle-stimulating hormones in your blood. An ultrasound can determine the current number of follicles in your ovaries.
Proper Size of the Follicles for IVF
To increase the chances of IVF success, the size of your follicles should be above 18 mm. When the size of the follicles exceeds 18, the doctor retrieves them at the right time by injecting the HCG hormone. It should be noted that self-injection of this drug is dangerous and should be avoided.
Having Healthy and Motile Sperms
By analyzing the results of a spermogram or semen analysis, the doctor can check the male partner's sperm factors such as motility, count, morphology, etc. Men who have sperm problems should:
- Take vitamins and drugs to increase the quality and quantity of their sperms;
- Stay hydrated by drinking two liters of water each day;
- Keep their testicles cool;
- Maintain a balanced BMI; and
- Avoid cycling and taking a hot bath frequently.
Having a Healthy Lifestyle
Having a healthy lifestyle is one way to increase your chance of IVF success. Before taking any drugs, supplements, or herbal medicines, discuss them with your doctor because some medicines or supplements interfere with the IVF procedure. Also, having enough sleep can have positive effects on IVF success. Studies have shown that women who sleep 7-8 hours a day have a higher chance of successful IVF pregnancy than other women.
Unfortunately, most women stop exercising when the IVF process begins. However, according to many fertility specialists, continuing to exercise - especially in female athletes and people with regular exercise programs – helps maintain BMI normal and increases the chance of IVF success. Of course, patients should avoid heavy sports such as weight lifting and wrestling during the IVF process because they reduce the chances of successful implantation.
Reducing Stress and Anxiety
Stress is one of the most important reasons for IVF failure; therefore, managing your stress and anxiety is better for achieving the desired results. Often people experience fear and anxiety after IVF embryo transfer. Reading comedy books, watching comedy movies, or creating a happy atmosphere at home can positively affect IVF results.
In order to investigate the effect of happiness and laughter on IVF results, researchers asked the mothers to attend the clown's show after IVF transfer. Surprisingly, the results showed that the chances of pregnancy in people who attended the comedy show after embryo transfer was twice as much as the ones who didn't attend the show.
In most cases, the first IVF cycle does not lead to pregnancy; sometimes, it takes several cycles to have a successful IVF. Therefore, you should be patient until you get the desired result.
Consulting the Doctor before Taking any Medication
During the IVF procedure, you should stop taking drugs that interfere with your fertility medications. In other words, before starting the IVF process and during the first appointments, you should hand a list of the medications you currently take to your doctor. Medicines such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, some OTC supplements, and anti-allergic drugs cause hormonal imbalances and ultimately have a negative effect on IVF results.
Common Beliefs about IVF Success
In the following, we discuss the common beliefs about what increases the chance of successful IVF.
- Absolute Rest after Embryo Transfer
You don't need absolute rest after IVF transfer. Recent studies show that women who engage in normal daily activities have better results than those who have absolute rest. Doctors believe that patients should not have absolute rest after embryo transfer because it prevents the heart and blood circulation system from functioning naturally; however, we should note that heavy activities and sports are prohibited after ivf embryo transfer.
- Acupuncture and Successful IVF
Investigations have shown that acupuncture positively affected some people and not others during the IVF procedure. In general, acupuncture increases blood flow and thus increases the chance of embryo implantation. We should note that acupuncture after IVF embryo transfer has no side effects and gives the mother more positive energy.
- Herbal Medicines and Successful IVF
So far, it has not been proven whether taking herbal medicines negatively or positively affects IVF success. However, since the amount of mercury in these plants is unknown, it is not recommended to use such drugs during IVF procedures and pregnancy.
Assisted Techniques to Increase Your Chance of IVF Success
When several cycles of IVF have failed, some assisted techniques are used to increase the chance of IVF success:
- Assisted hatching: if the cause of IVF failure is a high level of FSH, high maternal age, or repeated implantation failures, this method is used. During the assisted hatching method, a small hole is created on the embryo's outer shell to increase the chances of implantation after transfer.
- Endometrial scratching: Before taking IVF drugs and on the 21st day of the menstrual cycle, a specialist scratches the surface of the endometrium with a special tool to trigger the body to repair the site of the scratch. By doing so, growth factors and white blood cells accumulate in the uterus, making the womb lining more receptive. It is worth mentioning that the chemicals released at this stage play a significant role in the implantation and growth of the embryo.
- PRP treatment for endometrium: this is a treatment for thin endometrium, during which platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is separated from the patient's blood and injected into the uterus to increase the thickness of the uterine wall.
What to Eat for Having Successful IVF?
A healthy diet can highly affect IVF success because it increases the quality and quantity of sex cells and keeps the body in good condition. In addition, a proper diet provides the basis for low-risk pregnancy and the birth of a healthy child. Moreover, maintaining a stable and healthy BMI can effectively achieve the desired result in IVF.
Having fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy products, vegetables high in proteins, vegetable oils, and whole meal bread (wheat bread) can lead to IVF success. Moreover, avoiding canned foods, unhealthy snacks, fast food, leftovers, processed foods, saturated fat, etc., help you in having a low-risk pregnancy and a healthy child.
Having Sex during IVF Procedure
Using healthy and high-quality sperm in IVF plays a crucial role in increasing the success rate of IVF. Therefore, it is recommended that the male partner refrains from ejaculating for at least three days and, at most, seven days before providing the semen sample to the laboratory. Also, after IVF transfer day, it is recommended to avoid having sex until you hear the sound of the baby's heart.
The IVF post-operative cares that increase the chances of its success include:
- Avoid doing heavy activities and sports until your pregnancy is confirmed;
- Avoid swimming and using the bathtub for 48 hours after IVF transfer day;
- Have a diet rich in fiber to prevent bloating and constipation;
- If you have other children, ask your partner or a caregiver to take care of them for a few days after the transfer; and
- Do not lift, push, and pull heavy objects.
Don't miss the diet after embryo transfer article if you want to know more about what to eat after IVF embryo transfer.
Pregnancy Test after IVF
When to take a pregnancy test after IVF depends on the hormone injection and implantation time; usually, between 8 and 10 days after ovulation, the implantation process is complete, and the production of the HCG hormone begins. In other words, the HCG hormone, created by the placenta and plays an essential role in feeding the embryo, is injected. Then, after 24 hours, a test should be taken to measure the level of HCG.
About 35 hours after the injection of the HCG hormone, the mature eggs are often retrieved, and after fertilizing them in the laboratory, the resulting embryo is transferred to the uterus. Since HCG hormone remains in the body for 5 to 14 days, you must wait at least 14 days to take a pregnancy test; otherwise, you will face false results.
In general, there are two ways of performing a pregnancy test;
Urine test, which can be taken easily at home. Of course, this method does not provide accurate results for women who have taken fertility medications because the test only reacts to the amount of HCG injected into the body.
A beta test confirms pregnancy by measuring the amount of HCG in the blood. Taking this test is harder and requires more time, but its results are real and accurate.
HCG Level and Pregnancy Status
After IVF, the amount of HCG hormone produced in the body is used to check the pregnancy status:
- The amount of HCG hormone less than 5 (IU/L) indicates IVF failure.
- The amount of HCG hormone more than 10 (IU/L) means that the test should be repeated after 48 to confirm pregnancy.
- A significant increase in the HCG hormone in the test shows that the doctor must perform sonography after the 4th week of embryo transfer in the fourth week. At this stage, the gestational sac is likely to be visible in sonography, and the baby's heartbeat can be heard.
Overall, the success of IVF depends on many factors, the most important of which are the physical condition and age of the mother. In general, the success rate of IVF is 35-40%, but you can increase this number by considering the factors mentioned above. As one of the main hubs in fertility treatment, Iran is a desirable destination for infertile couples longing to have a child soon. For getting more information about IVF in Iran, contact the Radinaa team. Radinaa Co. provides you with the most affordable and customized packages for IVF.
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