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Which supplements should I consider before, during, and after IVF?

Dr Jana Voborovská Neudeckerová
IVF Specialist, UNICA Clinic – Brno

Category:
Lifestyle and Fertility

supplements-to-consider-for-your-ivf-cycle
From this video you will find out:
  • What are the recommended supplements for both men and women before starting IVF treatment?
  • Are there specific nutrients or vitamins that are crucial for reproductive health before undergoing IVF?
  • Besides the commonly known supplements, are there lesser-known ones that can positively impact fertility?
  • Are there supplements that are particularly beneficial during the IVF treatment cycle?
  • How early should I start incorporating supplements into my fertility journey?

Which supplements should I consider before, during, and after IVF?

Are you wondering about the right supplements to consider before, during, and after the IVF process? Dr Jana Voborovská Neudeckerová, IVF Specialist at Unica Clinic, explained which supplements can help you to prepare your body for conception as well as support it during the process and post-treatment care.

While you’re likely familiar with IVF, it’s crucial to understand intrauterine insemination (IUI), the first infertility treatment. At Unica, we also offer common IVF and treatment with donor eggs for women with low ovarian reserve.

Infertility and Age

Infertility and age are interconnected. After 40, fertility declines, posing challenges for conception. This applies to both women and men, although, male fertility goes down after 45 years. emphasizing the importance of addressing fertility issues early.

It’s very important to have a healthy lifestyle because infertility is not only about hormones, it’s about the whole body, the whole organism. And we should have a healthy lifestyle. It’s about choosing good food with a lot of vegetables, not with plenty of fried food, everything we eat influences our hormone levels.

Importance of nutrition

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is key, as infertility involves more than just hormones. It encompasses the entire body, demanding a mindful approach to food choices. It’s very necessary to choose good food and choose good fatty acids. Furthermore, it’s a very important thing to focus on the micronutrients. And there are a lot of antioxidants, especially in the fruits and vegetables, which we should eat.

The calorie count isn’t the sole concern; it’s about the properties. Our nutrition should promote hormonal balance. Opt for good fatty acids, micronutrients, and antioxidants found abundantly in fruits and vegetables.

Avoiding harmful habits

Avoid excessive alcohol and moderate coffee consumption to maintain hormonal balance. Managing stress, though challenging, is very important for our body, and for our hormonal balance.  Everybody has a lot of stress at work, at home, and in other places. But it’s very important to have a clear mind for successful treatment.

Introduction to supplements

Let’s explore beneficial supplements to prepare for IVF treatment. Include foods like avocado, walnuts, olives, beans, and green tea. However, limit green tea due to caffeine. Salmon and other fish are beneficial for both women and men. For women, virgin olive oil is a valuable pre-treatment addition. It supports reproductive health, reduces inflammation, and aids cardiovascular health. Maintain a healthy lifestyle with a normal BMI to mitigate infertility risks.

Prioritize zinc, selenium, iron, magnesium, and fiber in your diet. These elements contribute to improved sperm analysis results and overall reproductive health. Concerning green tea, opt for regular green tea over decaffeinated versions, limiting consumption to one cup daily to avoid unnecessary chemical processes.

Key factors for women before treatment

Before embarking on fertility treatment, ensure sufficient intake of folic acid. Studies consistently show its role in reducing the risk of preterm birth and neural tube development issues in babies.

What is special for a woman before the treatment is zinc. Another thing is that a preparation with zinc improves the results of sperm analysis, the sperm sample is better after using a preparation with zinc. Then minerals like selenium, iron, and magnesium. It’s also good for a woman, and fiber is good for a woman, like a healthy lifestyle and healthy food. While we can’t increase follicle numbers, early intervention can help stimulate ovaries. However, for those with low AMH levels, enhancing ovarian reserve proves challenging.

Include vitamin D supplements, especially during winter, to counter low levels caused by limited sun exposure. Calcium-rich foods like cheese are vital during treatment, helping manage hormonal fluctuations.

Understanding follicle count

We can’t increase the number of follicles because every woman comes to this world with a specific number of follicles, which cannot be changed. We can only stimulate the ovaries. However, if there is a low AMH level, there is no ovarian reserve. We can’t improve it. Another thing is the vitamin C, it’s very important, an antioxidant.

Essential nutrients during treatment

Embrace a diet rich in diuretic foods like broccoli and hydrating fruits and vegetables containing vitamin C, such as citrus, berries, and iron-rich foods. This dietary approach complements the hormone-intensive IVF treatments. Another thing is vitamin D, which is also very important, especially in the winter. It’s very important to use supplements with vitamin D because a lot of people have low levels of vitamin D in their blood. During the summer, the sun will help us, and we can create vitamin D in our skin, but during the winter, vitamin D is not created in our skin, and so we should use supplements with vitamin D.

Another thing we need to do during treatment is to avoid calcium. For example: cheese and something rich in foods that dehydrate the body and is diuretic, like broccoli. Another thing is to avoid parsley, pineapple, asparagus, or mushrooms, but reach for fruits and vegetables that contain vitamin C like berries, vitamin B, and folates (spinach, kale, and beans).

Closing remarks

In conclusion, at our clinic (UNICA), we offer a range of treatments—common IVF, IVF with donated eggs, IUI, sperm selection, and holistic approaches like physiotherapy, fertility yoga, and acupuncture. Infertility isn’t solely about organs; it’s a holistic concern that demands a comprehensive approach to treatment. So, focus on nutrition, maintain a healthy lifestyle, and cultivate a clear mind for optimal results.

- Questions and Answers

Is there a regulatory body in your country? In England, we have the HFEA (Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority). Is there something similar in the Czech Republic?

The regulatory body in the Czech Republic is governed by our laws and government, without a specific institution like the HFEA.

Can you take decaf green tea instead?

Cecaf green tea is not recommended, it’s a chemical process.  I think it’s better to drink one cup of clear green tea of good quality instead of decaf green tea.

Is there a supplement that can increase eggs and follicles?

Unfortunately, there is no supplement for that. It’s a genetic and age-related factor.

How about the quality? Is it possible to improve egg and sperm quality?

The quality of embryos is created from the genetic information in the egg and sperm. While we can choose the best sperm, we cannot improve the genetic information inside the egg.

Why should we avoid calcium?

It’s okay to use it, but not in excess. Moderation is key.

Are there potential interactions between fertility supplements and medications commonly prescribed during IVF?

No significant interactions with fertility supplements and commonly prescribed medications.

Is there such a thing as taking too many supplements?

No known risks of taking too many supplements.

Can supplements increase the number of eggs and follicles?

No supplement can increase the number of eggs and follicles.

Should folic acid be taken three months prior to embryo transfer with a donor egg embryo?

Folic acid is recommended for three months prior to embryo transfer with a donor egg embryo.

Is there a specific dosage for folic acid, and how should it be taken?

Recommended folic acid dosage is 700 micrograms per day.

Can individuals with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis take iodine?

Iodine can be taken based on the type of thyroid issue; it’s best to consult an endocrinologist.

I a male with higher prolactin levels. Can foods lower prolactin levels, and can they be taken with thyroid medication?

Some foods may lower prolactin levels; again, it’s best to consult an endocrinologist.

When should one start and stop supplements like vitamin E and L-arginine for womb lining?

Vitamin E can be used throughout the treatment; no need to stop after the transfer. I don’t have experience with L-argenine.  

If folic acid is in a fertility multivitamin, do I still need to take it separately?

No need to take additional folic acid if it’s already in the multivitamin.

Why take folic acid with an egg donor embryo, and how does it influence birth defects?

Given that the embryo is developing in your body, it’s necessary to use folic acid. Even if you have a donor embryo, it’s the same body, and the development occurs in the uterus. Therefore, there is no reason not to use folic acid.

What about the supplements that boost or enhance the immune system? Is it better to avoid them? I am currently taking chlorella powder and colostrum.

Chlorella is a superfood, so there is no problem using it. Colostrum is good for our immune system, so there is no issue with using it as well.

I am currently taking saffron with myo-inositol to reduce stress. Is it recommended during preparation in the Frozen cycle?

Myo-inositol is generally good to use as it has a positive influence on ovulation. However, if you are in a frozen cycle and aim to suppress ovulation, it might pose a slight problem. You can try one cycle and monitor for ovulation. If ovulation occurs during the frozen cycle, you may consider discontinuing myo-inositol in subsequent cycles. Nonetheless, myo-inositol is beneficial if you want to promote ovulation, as it helps with the process.

Can you recommend a good folic acid that is easily absorbable? Is methyl folate better than the normal one?

Methyl folate is the active form of folic acid. Many women have an MTHFR mutation, and if you have this mutation, you may have difficulty absorbing normal folic acid. Therefore, it is better to use methyl folate. If you’re unsure whether you have this mutation, it’s advisable to choose methyl folate because it’s the active form and is easily absorbable by our bodies. Of course, this is applicable if you know you have this mutation.      

Having Hashimoto thyroiditis, can I take iodine?

Some endocrinologists prescribe it to patients, but if you have Hashimoto’s, it’s better to discuss it with your endocrinologist.

What can you say about royal jelly for after embryo transfer?

You can use it; it’s good for immunity.

My concern regarding immunity stimulation supplements was primarily related to the possibility of the immune system attacking the embryo and not accepting it due to active immune cells

It’s not about the supplements themselves; rather, it’s related to potential immunity issues such as NK cells, and antibodies. Therefore, the supplements may not be the cause. It is necessary to undergo a complete immune system examination and then determine the appropriate treatment. I believe the supplements were not the reason for this problem.

What happens if you have high iron levels and are trying for a baby?

You don’t have to use any iron supplements during pregnancy, so there’s no issue with a higher level of iron.

I’ve read that warm drinks are useful for blood flow. What do you recommend, since coffee and tea are not the best warm drinks for it?

It’s right, but I don’t think there is a significant influence on the embryo or conception. So, I think you can drink hot coffee or hot tea, but not excessively. However, I don’t believe there’s a reason to drink a lot of it after a transfer or to abstain from drinking anything.

My B12 level is 100 with the norm of 800 units. Can it cause any problems?

No, there is no issue with that. You don’t need to worry.
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Authors
Dr Jana Voborovská Neudeckerová

Dr Jana Voborovská Neudeckerová

Dr Jana Voborovská Neudeckerová is an IVF Specialist at Unica Clinic. She has wanted to become a doctor since childhood. She graduated from the First Faculty of Medicine of Charles University in Prague and, after graduation, worked in the maternity hospital U Apolináře. She gained a lot of valuable experience, which she put to good use as an ambulatory gynaecologist and doctor of the gynaecology-obstetrics department at the Kladno Regional Hospital, where she still partially works. She has been part of the Unica team for 4 years, and the issue of infertility treatment has interested her so much that she is now preparing for the reproductive medicine subspecialty exam. She supports a holistic approach to infertility treatment and actively lectures and publishes about this topic.
Event Moderator
Caroline Kulczycka

Caroline Kulczycka

Caroline Kulczycka is managing MyIVFAnswers.com and has been hosting IVFWEBINARS dedicated to patients struggling with infertility since 2020. She's highly motivated and believes that educating patients so that they can make informed decisions is essential in their IVF journey. In the past, she has been working as an International Patient Coordinator, where she was helping and directing patients on their right path. She also worked in the tourism industry, and dealt with international customers on a daily basis, including working abroad. In her free time, you’ll find her travelling, biking, learning new things, or spending time outdoors.
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