IVF: mental, physical readiness must

Ravina and Bhaskar, aged 34 and 38 respectively, were trying for a baby for five years and had lost hope in having a child of their own. Due to continuous pressure from family and friends, the couple finally decided to go for fertility treatment to conceive. However, after going through several IUI treatments, the result continued to be negative.

This added more to the depression and sadness they had been going through over the years of being infertile. After a few counselling sessions with the specialists, Ravina and Bhaskar realised that they had to be mentally and physically prepared before conceiving naturally or even through In-Vitro Fertilisation (IVF).

India has seen a steep rise in the number of couples who plan to undertake IVF treatment at the beginning of the year. While 70% of the couples approach with 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 planning for an IVF cycle will increase the chances of a successful pregnancy. The outcome will be positive and the risk of side effects due to drugs and medication will be reduced drastically. A happy mind and a relaxed body are what all successful IVF treatments need. As it is important for the couple to be physically ready, it is equally important for the mother to be prepared mentally and nutritionally.

Balanced diet, positive thinking, healthy lifestyle, regular exercise and support from family and friends helps the couple undergoing treatment to prepare well in advance to handle the stress and pain during this journey. 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.

a) Diet:

• Healthy and balanced diet

• Optimal intake of fruits and vegetables

• Proper intake of vitamins and minerals, trace elements and antioxidants

• Avoiding alcohol, cigarettes, drugs and caffeine that disrupt the hormonal balance

b) Healthy lifestyle:

• Being overweight or underweight can reduce chances of conceiving. Overweight or obese women often have problems with ovulation. Obesity in men has detrimental effects on sperm motility and erectile function.

• Exercising 30 minutes a day, three to four days a week, can help you on your way to pregnancy.

c) Emotional support:

• Spend quality time with the partner who will undergo treatment

• Assist and accompany him/her in every activity – doctor’s visit, walking and dining together

• Taking regular breaks during weekend to visit family, friends

While general assumptions may be made about the stress levels during IVF, the ordeals of patients suffering from infertility is personal and unique. Each patient experiences stress differently based on their own personalities and lifestyles. While undergoing IVF treatment, it is important to stay mentally calm and physically fit ahead of the treatment.A good healthy lifestyle supports the hormonal and reproductive system and nourishes the body during the crucial early stages, while care and support from the partner and family members help the person to be mentally prepared.

When planning for IVF, one should take sufficient time to invest in the well-being and preparing the body to carry on with a new life. Apart from these, is the greatest realistic preparation – be financially ready! The financial risk in IVF is high, but the return can be priceless. That is why it is so important for each couple to be absolutely sure of their willingness and financial ability to make such an investment before they attempt IVF.

Before, during and post IVF treatments, it is very important to be looking ahead and remaining positive about everything. It is important to know about the success rates of treatments and be mentally prepared for failure too. Understanding the reason behind a failed IVF cycle and looking for the next treatment option with a positive attitude and hope should also be a part of the plan.

Being pregnant through an IVF is a joyous and happy feeling. However, one should not be saddened, disappointed or depressed if the process is not successful. A couple should go through this entire process together, by being an emotional pillar for each other.

(The writer is Fertility Consultant, Nova IVI Fertility, Bengaluru)
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