It is important for you to appreciate that there are several lifestyle choices that you can take to improve the chances of successful treatment.
Women who smoke (including e-cigarettes) have a 50% lower chance of successful IVF treatment than those who don’t smoke. Smoking also reduces the ability of sperm to function normally. So if either or both of you are smokers, it is important to stop since the effects of smoking on reproductive health are fairly long lasting, you will not be able to access IVF treatment if either you or your partner smoke.
Best practice and medical advice is to abstain from alcohol consumption completely when trying to fall pregnant.
Body Mass Index
Body Mass Index (BMI) is an estimate of the amount of fat in your body. You can calculate your BMI here. If your BMI is greater than 30 or less than 18.5, it might take longer than usual for you to become pregnant, or reduce your chances of becoming pregnant. You might also require more drugs during your treatment and during any ensuing pregnancy the potential for the following risks rise:
- miscarriage rate
- high blood pressure during pregnancy
- the baby having spina bifida and/or heart conditions
- complications after delivery of the baby
At ACS we offer treatment to women with a BMI of 30 or less. However, for the reasons described above, we encourage all those embarking on assisted conception treatment to achieve a BMI of 20 – 25.
A balanced diet (i.e. one which includes plenty of fruit and vegetables) is, along with moderate exercise, fundamental to a healthy lifestyle. As well as helping to achieve an ideal body weight, it also reduces the likelihood of complications during any pregnancy.
Taking folic acid tablets (400 micrograms) every day can help reduce the risk of your baby developing a neural tube defect such as spina bifida. If you have diabetes or epilepsy or have had a baby with a neural tube defect you should take 5 milligrams of folic acid per day. To gain the most benefit, it is important that you take the folic acid for at least three months before you become pregnant and continue to do so for the first 12 weeks of any pregnancy.
People who are concerned about their fertility should be informed that there is no consistent evidence of an association between consumption of caffeinated beverages (tea, coffee and colas) and fertility problems. However, many experts in the field of assisted conception recommend limiting caffeine consumption to no more than 3 cups of coffee, tea or cola per day.