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- Nutrition support for IVF/ICSI
Assisted Fertility Treatment
The hardest part for any patient undergoing fertility treatment is the knowledge that there are no guarantees. For all the financial, emotional and physical investment you have put into the process there is on average, only a 23-25% chance that it will be successful.
We know that the most important factors affecting the success of an IUI/IVF/ICSI cycle are the quality of the sperm and the egg. A healthy endometrial lining is also vital, in order to facilitate implantation.
These vital elements are each influenced by the choices you make in your daily diet and lifestyle and by working on each of these elements you can drastically increase your chances of success.
Sperm quality cannot be improved with medication. While you can use technologies such as ICSI or IMSI to select what appears to be the best sperm available, if the DNA within the sperm is poor quality to begin with, then it doesn't leave a great selection to choose from. Poor quality sperm are more likely to result in a poor quality embryo, which reduces the chances of successful implantation and increases the likelihood of miscarriage if you do conceive. This is why equal attention should be given to the male aspect of fertility, rather than solely focusing on egg quality and maternal age.
Medications are effective for boosting a woman's ovarian function and they can stimulate maturation of the egg follicles or bring on ovulation. However, medication cannot enhance the quality of the developing egg follicles.
The follicular fluid nourishing the egg during the 3-4 month period prior to egg retrieval must carry the full quota of nutrients that are required for follicle development, otherwise egg quality may be diminished.
The importance of an abundant supply of nutrients for the developing follicles becomes even more important as women age as the amount of free radicals in the body increases, making the egg follicles more likely to deteriorate.
Endometrial thickness & receptivity
It is often assumed that successful implantation depends mostly on the quality of the embryo, however equal importance should be given to the endometrial lining. So often after a failed IVF treatment patients are told that it was just 'bad luck' because the lining looked thick and the embryo was of high quality so there was no reason why it shouldn't have worked.
Some of the stimulation medications that are typically used to help a woman produce more eggs for collection can actually make the endometrial lining less receptive to implantation.
Research has compared the success rates with fresh and frozen cycles and found a higher implantation and continuing pregnancy rate in the frozen cycles, which is thought to be due to improved endometrial receptivity because no stimulation medications are used on a frozen cycle.
Where endometrial lining thickness is an issue, fertility acupuncture may be a useful adjunctive treatment during your IVF/ICSI cycle to help the quality and thickness of the endometrial tissue.