Today’s post in our series on lifestyle & fertility focuses on vitamins and supplements. Taking vitamins and supplements in preparation for fertility treatment is something that we can control and that’s easy to do. But what’s been shown to help fertility outcomes? What has been tested but shown no or inconclusive results? We’ll discuss folic acid, vitamin D, and antioxidants below – some of the results surprised us. As usual, ask your doctor prior to your treatment for their recommendations and guidance, as they may be aware of even more recent unpublished research.
Can I drink alcohol before or during fertility treatment?
The question of drinking before and during fertility treatment tends to bring out strong opinions. It also comes up a lot with our Ovally customers: “Can I have at least a little Spanish wine during treatment?”. For the purpose of this post, we are going to focus on alcohol consumption before and during fertility treatment until conception only, and leave out any research on pregnancy and alcohol. As usual, check with your doctor on their guidance regarding alcohol intake during any fertility treatment. We’re summarizing the findings of high-quality research studies for you, but your doctor may have access to relevant, yet to be published findings.
How does exercise affect my fertility?
We’re surrounded by positive messages about exercising, yet there are surprisingly few quality studies that have looked at a potential link between exercise and fertility. We know that female athletes often have irregularities with their cycles, and that high levels of exercise seem to be associated with longer menstrual cycles. Research on fertility patients has been inconclusive – one study showed that moderate exercise was correlated with a lower likelihood of having a baby, another showed the opposite.
Can my diet improve fertility outcomes?
Relatively clear answers and quality research can be hard to come by in fertility research. However, when it comes to how food relates to fertility outcomes, there are some decent data! The short answer is: Avoid fast food, and instead embrace fruits, vegetables, legumes, fish, whole grains, and foods high in omega 3, such as nuts. This goes not just for women undergoing fertility treatment, but also those hoping to conceive naturally. This “Mediterranean diet” has also been linked to higher sperm count and sperm quality in men. And yes, the literature actually refers to it as a “Mediterranean diet” – we swear we didn’t make it up because Ovally‘s partner clinics are in Spain :)!
Gillian’s egg freezing story with Ovally
Undergoing any kind of fertility treatment is a sensitive and very personal matter. Unfortunately, many still associate fertility treatments with stigma, which we are hoping to help decrease. That’s why we’re delighted to share Gillian’s Instagram story about freezing her eggs with Ovally. We’re grateful to her for her openness and honesty in sharing her story publicly.
Gillian says about using Ovally: “I had been considering egg freezing for years, but was daunted by the cost. Ovally made that feasible for me, but the experience was so much more valuable than I expected. Having a resource other than my doctor that I could go to for all my questions (including travel planning!) made an intimidating process so much more pleasant. Compared to friends who did this in the US, I felt like I got substantially better care both physically and psychologically. ”
Common misconceptions about egg freezing
Our founder’s recent interview on the Podcast “Technophobia” got us thinking about common misconceptions about egg freezing that we hear in our Ovally consults:
1. I’ll wait until my mid/late 30s to freeze my eggs:
Does drinking coffee or tea affect fertility?
“Can I have caffeine before and during my treatment?” is a great question we’ve gotten from our egg freezing and IVF Ovally customers. As is so often the case, the research on this question isn’t as clean and clear-cut as we’d like: It’s hard to separate out variables besides caffeine that can affect fertility outcomes, and many studies rely on retrospective self-reports of consumption, which can be unreliable. However, high-quality studies looking at a relationship between caffeine consumption and the ability to conceive during IVF treatment suggest that 1-2 cups of coffee per day don’t significantly affect the ability to conceive. Surprisingly, however, 1-2 cups of coffee a day (or the equivalent level of caffeine in another drink) have been found to double the risk of miscarriage during pregnancy.
Does acupuncture help with fertility treatments?
Acupuncture is a Traditional Chinese Medicine technique that uses thin needles to stimulate specific points on the body to release blocked energy and jumpstart a healing process. In the context of fertility, acupuncture may help improve blood flow to the uterus and reduce stress and anxiety. It may also play a role in regulating certain hormones that play a role in fertility, including beta endorphins and insulin. However, data from randomized experiments are very limited, and scientific results on the effectiveness of acupuncture for fertility treatments are inconclusive.
Do I use up precious eggs if I freeze them?
We hear this concern frequently on our Welcome Consults for Ovally: If I freeze my eggs, don’t I decrease the number of eggs I have available? Does freezing my eggs therefore lower my chances of conceiving naturally after freezing them, because I have fewer eggs? Luckily, the answer is no – egg freezing takes advantage of eggs that would’ve otherwise disintegrated, and the number of eggs you freeze in a typical cycle is really tiny compared to the number of eggs you have available.
10 reasons to freeze your eggs in your 20s
You’ll take advantage of…
1. More eggs to collect: Your number of eggs declines with age
2. Better egg quality: Also declines with age
3. Lower treatment cost: Given 1. and 2., you’ll likely only need one egg freezing cycle to collect a good number of high-quality eggs