Starting an IVF cycle can be very exciting. You know that IVF represents your best chance of getting pregnant - and deciding to start your IVF treatment is a big step , both financially as well as emotionally . You naturally want to do your best to make sure that you maximize your chances of getting pregnant.
Here’s my advise. A lot of this is applied common sense , but it's worth going through carefully to make sure that you and your doctor have dotted all the i's and crossed all the t’s, so that no matter what the outcome of the cycle is (something over which you have no control ), at least you have peace of mind that you give it your best shot.
The most important first step is a dose of what I call information therapy. You need to do as much homework as possible - not only about the IVF treatment itself , but also about the IVF clinic where you are taking your treatment. In fact , which clinic you select for your IVF treatment is one of the most important decisions which you can make - and this is one decision which is often in your control ! You should spend a lot of time and energy thinking about it carefully. A lot of patients are very casual about this and will often just go to the nearest clinic ; or to the clinic which has the largest ad in the Yellow Pages ; or to a doctor who's been recommended by a friend. While these are all alternative options for identifying possible IVF clinics, these are not very good criteria for selecting the best possible IVF clinic.
Sometimes it's very tempting to pick a clinic simply because it's the cheapest; , or the nearest ; or the most convenient. However, these are not good criteria for making such an important decision. While it's sometimes hard to differentiate between a good IVF clinic and a not so good IVF clinic, one of the things you should definitely insist on is that that your doctor provide you with photographs of the embryos, which he creates for you during your IVF cycle. If for any reason the doctor refuses to do so ( for example, by claiming that it’s not “ clinic policy” to do so ), this should raise a red flag , and you should seriously consider looking for an alternative option. The only tangible deliverable which an IVF clinic can provide is embryos. After transferring these embryos into your uterus, whether they will implant and become a baby on not is not something which the clinic can control - but documenting the fact that they produced good-quality embryos for you is something which every IVF clinic worth its salt is proud of doing , and will be happy to share with you.
It's important that you organize your medical records properly so that you are sure that your doctor understands all the important variables in your case. If you are well organized, it helps the doctor to be better organized as well , so that he can individualize his treatment protocol to optimize your success.
You need to try and optimize your general physical health by stopping smoking ; and by ensuring you are at your best possible bodyweight . It's useful to have an active lifestyle , and you should be taking folic acid supplementation on a regular basis. There are lots of other nutritional supplements you can use, if you believe they help you remain healthier. These can include: vitamins; anti-oxidants; DHEA and wheat germ. Just because there is no scientific evidence to back them does not mean you should not follow what your heart tells you to ! What about any don'ts ? Is there anything you must not eat ? Hot or cold foods you should abstain from ? The simple answer is - No. But if you believe that certain dietary restrictions help to improve fertility, them please go ahead and honour your personal beliefs.
Along with optimizing your physical health , you need to spend time and energy preparing yourself emotionally and mentally. There's no question that an IVF cycle can be quite stressful , especially because the outcome itself is always uncertain and unpredictable. This is why learning stress management skills such as meditation and yoga can help you cope with the ups and downs of an IVF cycle much more efficiently.
Finally, start thinking about Plan B - what will you do in case the cycle fails ? While most patients spend a lot of time and energy on positive imagery and visualization, and I do think it helps being optimistic and hoping for the best , in reality there's very little point in preparing for success ! After all, if you are successful , everything falls into place automatically - what you really need to do is prepare for failure. This does not mean that you have to be pessimistic and negative - just that its best to take a realistic perspective , so that you don't do your treatment on an ad hoc basis ! It’s best to be prepared for all eventualities, no matter what !