IVF Dos and Don’ts: Your Guide to Diet, Exercise, Sex, and More
Are you ready?! The time is finally here to start your IVF journey and path to becoming a Mommy or Daddy. It is very exciting, but all the planning, appointments, injections, and medications can feel pretty overwhelming. You want to do everything just right and walk a very straight path in hopes of success.
And beyond making sure you complete the best IVF cycle you can, you probably have some lifestyle questions. Okay, maybe you have a lot of lifestyle questions. Are you wondering about exercise, what you can eat or drink, or if you can have sex? Trust me when I say, “You are not alone.”
My name is Jocelyn, and I’m a fertility nurse here at RMA of Connecticut, working out of our Danbury office. I am going on my 13th year and have heard it all! In fact, I get questions like these daily. That’s why I’m here to answer your lifestyle questions and debunk any myths you might have heard. We’ll make it as simple as possible so you can just focus on powering through treatment like the warrior you are!
Going through Fertility Treatment? Here are the Most Common Lifestyle Questions
Can I have sex during an IVF cycle?
Yes! It is completely safe to have sex during ovarian stimulation. Although, there may come a point during your IVF cycle that it becomes uncomfortable to have sex. Your ovaries are growing and becoming larger, so it can make it uncomfortable to have relations. If that is the case, then refrain from intercourse. Listen to your body. However, if you feel okay, then go for it!
We do ask that after the transfer of the embryo you refrain from sex until the pregnancy test. Your nurse will give you new instructions based on your pregnancy test results.
Can I exercise during IVF? What is safe and what’s not?
Exercise is always good! It improves your overall physical health, but it does a lot for your mental wellbeing, too. I am a huge advocate for exercise.
Exercise such as walking, the elliptical, lightweight exercises are all safe. Yoga is great. We even offer a yoga class here at RMA called Fertile Yoga. A lot of our patients take this class, so attending gives you a chance to meet those other patients going through the same thing.
One exercise that we tell all patients to refrain from during IVF stimulation is CrossFit or High-Intensity training. Just like in the previous question, your ovaries are growing and becoming larger. When that happens, it can increase your risk of ovarian torsion (when the ovary twists on itself causing pain). Cross fit or high-intensity training can increase that chances, so we ask you refrain during stimulation. Trust me, you can get back to that sort of routine eventually, but we want you to be safe.
Is there a specific diet I should follow?
A lot of patients ask about diet. Sometimes patients will tell me, “I am not eating any sugar,” or “I stopped drinking coffee or tea.” You do not have to stop any of that!
The keyword is moderation. Starting to make better choices now will follow you through pregnancy. A large cup of coffee a day is fine; if you like 2 cups a day have a small cup in the morning and another small cup midafternoon. Tea is safe as well, there are some herbal teas to stay away from and you can follow up with your care team if you are concerned.
As for having dessert or a slice of pizza, go for it! Have a cookie after dinner for dessert with some fruit. Have that slice of pizza with a large salad. Moderation with eating is always key to success.
How about alcohol - can I drink during fertility treatment?
This answer is a bit more complex. There are many different answers out there, from “not a drop while attempting pregnancy” to “it is completely okay.”
You should NOT drink after your Embryo Transfer or after the IUI is complete if doing insemination. Why? Because you could be pregnant!
During stimulation, however, you can have a glass of wine. I would advise you to limit your drinking to 1 glass (not two!) and not daily.
Can I travel during IVF? Is Zika still a thing?
Certain travel is okay when going forward with IVF! However, it’s necessary that you work with your nurse when planning out IVF and a trip. A short weekend getaway can most likely be managed during your IVF cycle. We discourage long trips; typically, being away for 4 days is not allowed.
There are still ZIKA concerns to think about when picking a place to travel, and in that case, please refer to the CDC guidelines.
Also, if you’re planning a trip and wanting to do IVF, talk with your nurse. We can use a birth control pill to manipulate your cycle a bit so you can get both done in the same month. That way you can sit on the beach with the cocktail and not worry about your cycle.
Can I color my hair and get my nails done?
Spa Day = Me Time. Yes! Ladies, do it! Have fun and relax. You deserve it!
And great news: during your stimulation cycle, you can color your hair and get your nails done.
Our advice: Make sure you are in a well-ventilated spot since you may be more sensitive to fumes. Once pregnant if coloring your hair, make sure to tell your hairdresser to avoid direct contact with your scalp.
Can I get a massage during IVF?
Yes, you can get a massage! Avoid deep tissue when in IVF stimulation due to ovary enlargement. However, massage is good for you; it will reduce stress and increase circulation.
My Biggest Advice: Keep Living Your Life!
I am hoping you found this FAQ info helpful. In short, you can do pretty much everything you were doing prior to IVF as long as you do everything safely and in moderation. We are here to make your day-to-day life more manageable and less filled with questions and debate.
One of my biggest pieces of advice? Be careful when you looking to the internet for advice. Whatever you read, whatever you have questions about, make sure to check with a member of our team. We’re here to help!
By keeping an open dialogue with your care team, trusting our advice, and practicing moderation, your life will stay out of the way of IVF. At the end of the day, we want you to be happy and successful. Good luck in your IVF cycle!
Do you know about the IVF side effects you may experience?