An Indian Diet Plan to Promote IVF Success

An Indian Diet Plan to Promote IVF Success

Diets have evolved over the years. The elderly among us will recall the days when food had more taste, there were no preservatives or chemicals in the food they ate. Making atta involved a trip to the granary. People walked more or cycled. Lifestyles were healthier.

Today, the easy availability of processed foods, modernization of agricultural methods, the use of food formulation techniques that destroy natural nutrients, sedentary lifestyles, and the temptation to eat out regularly make it that much harder to get the nutrients we need in our diets!

It was only as recently as the 20th century that scientists discovered vitamins and their essential role in supporting good health. Attention was given to sugar, fats, chemicals, preservatives, and the protein gap in our diets.  Scientists suggested a connection between nutrient-deficient diets and chronic diseases, and hence came the need for supplementation.

In the case of IVF, there is still no conclusive proof from science to prove that a certain diet can help promote IVF success. But studies have attempted to study the correlation between nutrition and lifestyle. Lifestyle includes diet and physical activity, stress, socioeconomic factors, BMI, smoking, alcohol, and caffeine which can all impact fertility.

Start making changes early

A growing body of evidence has suggested that changing preconception nutrition and lifestyle factors should be considered a first-choice treatment, particularly for unexplained subfertility. These are important steps to take to support the process of IVF. An ideal time to start is 3 to 6 months before your IVF treatment. What changes should you make?

Maintain a healthy weight prior to IVF. Obese women tend to have higher complications, but being underweight can also lead to infertility issues reducing the success rate of IVF.

Exercising regularly has many health benefits which include helping the body to better regulate insulin as well as hormonal levels that can affect ovulatory cycles. Try to aim for 3 to 5 hours of moderate exercise per week like going for a brisk walk or going to the gym. 

Adopting the “fertility” or the “preconception” diet. Data shows that a diet high in trans fats, refined carbohydrates, and added sugars can negatively affect fertility The term “fertility diet” or “preconception diet” may go under different names but the pattern is generally the same. These diets tend to be high in healthy fats. Healthy fats include monounsaturated and polyunsaturated such as ghee and oils from vegetables, nuts, seeds, and fish.  Studies from Harvard have suggested that a healthy diet can improve the chances of conceiving and having a successful pregnancy. Certain foods can also increase the quality of semen in men. 

Here’s what a “fertility” diet can include with examples of everyday Indian foods:

Complex carbohydrates

  • Beans and whole grains
  • Whole grains like wheat used in chappatis, millet or ragi, oats, and brown rice are better alternatives than white rice.

Fruits and vegetables – chose a variety of colours

  • Green leafy vegetables are rich in folic acid and Vitamin C.  It includes spinach, methi, broccoli.  Vegetables like beets and sweet potatoes are high in iron.  Colorful vegetables like tomatoes and red pepper are also beneficial.
  • Fruits are packed with Vitamin C, potassium, calcium, and folate and are good antioxidants as well as anti-inflammatory. This may include citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, avocados, apples, pears, strawberries, grapes, figs, pomegranates, bananas, and coconut.  Eating too much pineapple is not recommended.

Lean protein

  • Beans, lentils, and sprouts are packed with lean protein and iron.  It includes chickpeas, black-eyed peas, sprouted lentils as well as all types of dal. 
  • Protein sources for non-vegetarians include eggs, chicken, fish like salmon, and bhangda. Some fish like tuna can have high mercury and should be avoided. 

High-fat dairy foods

  • Dairy products are rich in calcium and are a good source of fats as well as Vitamin D.  Drink full-fat milk and curds, eat malai paneer, and other dairy products with high fat and less sugar.

Nuts

  • Nuts and dry fruits are great sources of good oils, vitamins, and minerals like selenium.  It includes walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, dried raisins, dates, and figs.  Dates are high in iron.

#IndianDiet Plan

Our dieticians at Xenith Advanced Fertility Clinic can help you chalk out a tailor-made diet plan that is right for you. Choose organic foods, as far as possible. Chemicals like insecticides and pesticides can have adverse effects on reproductive systems.

Don’t stress out

For some women, the stress of doing everything “right” to get pregnant may actually make things worse.  Sarika’s story is a typical example.

“When trying to get pregnant, I found myself scrutinizing every detail of anything I was eating, every exercise I was doing, and how it could adversely affect my fertility.  I became hyper-aware of my surroundings like when someone was smoking near me.  I checked and double-checked the ingredients in the food cartons to see if there were any unhealthy food groups like trans fats.  I even looked critically at the type of soap I was using and tried to go organic all the way” remembers Sarika who had already gone through 2 miscarriages and was trying IVF.” 

Being hypersensitive to adhere to lifestyle changes and the “fertility diet” created a lot of stress for Sarika. She had to learn to relax and just let it happen.  After learning to de-stress through meditation, walking, and just eating as healthy as was possible for her, Sarika did get pregnant and has a healthy baby boy.

At Xenith, we’ve seen better IVF results when men and women prime their health before beginning the IVF process. Schedule a consult if you would like further help on “preconception” diet, nutrition, and lifestyle. Or, if you’ve been trying to get pregnant for some time, but need a little help from us.

Conceiving with Sperm and/or Egg Donors: 7 Things to Consider

Couples tend to have children later on in life and sometimes don’t realize that while they put off parenting, the fertility clock is ticking. After the age of 35, the eggs in a woman’s ovaries begin to decline not just in number, but in quality as well. Healthy eggs are required for fertilization to take place. That goes for sperm, too. A man is fertile for most of his life but recent research shows a worrying trend toward declining sperm health in Indian men over the last 40 years.

Infertility issues may arise because of an age factor or due to other physiological reasons. But there is good news. There are so many wonderful options available today for parents who are unable to conceive using their own sperm or eggs.

Egg and sperm donation is on the rise all over the world giving childless couples much hope. However, the choice of using donor sperm/egg is a very personal one and each couple must decide what is right for themselves.

Your options may depend on the issues related to infertility. Here are some scenarios:

1. A woman’s eggs are not viable for fertilization

Women can still experience pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding by using donor eggs.

What you should consider

Couples who want to use donor eggs :

  1. Using eggs from a donor.  Oocyte donors can be commercial donors who donate their eggs for compensation of their time and effort or from women who are undergoing their own IVF cycles and have excess eggs to donate.  However due to the option of oocyte and embryo freezing  where excess eggs or embryos can be stored for future use, either after a failed IVF cycle or even for a second pregnancy, most of the times couples do not wish to donate their eggs when they are first retrieved. Commercial egg donation hence is usually a faster and more reliable option for couples. A profile of the egg donor regarding their medical history, educational qualifications, personality, appearance, physical height and weight, profession, is shared with the couple.

Using eggs from someone you know is not allowed by law in India. The oocyte donor has to be anonymous and cannot be an acquaintance, friend, or a family member.

2. There is no sperm in the male partner or the sperm is not healthy enough for fertilization

If a woman’s eggs are viable, couples have the choice of using donor sperm.

What you should consider

The same option is available for choosing a sperm donor. Donor sperm is usually taken from Sperm banks, where the semen of donors has been cryopreserved for a minimum of 6 months. A similar kind of profile as in oocyte donors is shared with the couple.

3. Both the eggs and sperm of the couple are not viable for fertilization

Fertilization takes place through IVF and the newly formed embryo is placed in the uterus of the female partner. The child that will be born is not biologically related to either parent. Here the oocyte as well as the sperm comes from a donor. There are multiple reasons why a donor embryo may be used by a couple. Complete evaluation and counseling is required before going ahead with donor gametes or donor embryo treatments.

4. Bonding with your baby

A question that is commonly asked when considering donor eggs/sperm is: If my baby is not biologically mine, will I be able to bond with the baby? It is perfectly normal to feel anxious or doubtful. At Xenith, we’ve seen hundreds of babies being born through sperm/egg donation and we can tell you that when you hold that child in your arms, every couple “knows” this is “their” child. Bonds of love and affection are instinctive.

5. Coming to terms

To begin the process of using donor eggs/sperm, both partners have to come to terms and perhaps overcome the sadness that comes with not being able to have your own biological children. This is an important step in the journey toward having a baby using donated sperm/egg.

6. What is a family and who’s in it?

We suggest couples take some time to consider their idea of “family”. How would you feel about the baby not being genetically related or only partially related to either partner? An important aspect is also to understand the effects of “nature vs nurture”. Egg or sperm donation does give the couple a chance of being able to have at least 50% of their own genetic material and several couples are enjoying the bliss of parenthood with these options.

At Xenith we do complete counseling and give the couple time to assimilate their feelings regarding this option and guide them to take an informed decision.

7. Legalities of using donated sperm/eggs

And lastly, consider all the legal implications. Our counselors are there to guide you every step of the way.

Note: Xenith only uses sperm/eggs derived from anonymous donors and a legal sperm bank which complies to Indian laws and regulations. Childless couples are on the rise. Couples should not think they are alone in this type of situation. Many couples at Xenith have found their dreams come true using donated eggs and/or sperm. There is some effort you need to take to understand all the issues involved so that you can make the right decision – a decision that is right for you and your partner.

6 Ways to Maximize Pregnancy Success with IUI Treatment

Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) is one of the most commonly used techniques for couples who are experiencing difficulty in conceiving a child. It is a relatively easy, non-invasive and inexpensive treatment. For some couples who have not been able to conceive, it can help speed up the time it takes to get pregnant.

This article will discuss why IUI is sometimes necessary, who is eligible for such treatment, how it is conducted, and more importantly, what steps you can take to improve pregnancy success through IUI.

Special note: The IUI process should be supervised by a reproductive endocrinologist. Applying the term “fertility specialists” randomly without the right credentials and qualifications should be scrutinized. Your greatest chances of success lie under the direct governance of a doctor who is a well-qualified.

Why is IUI necessary?

Conception is often not as easy as it seems! Conception takes place 12 to 24 hours after ovulation, and therefore the timing must be exact. For the timing to be right, it is important to figure out when your partner ovulates.

During natural intercourse, sperms have a hard journey ahead of them. Even if the timing is right, most sperm is killed in the vagina due to the fluids present there. Some sperm will reach the cervix which contains a sticky mucous. Not many sperm make it through the sticky mucous of the cervix and into the uterus. The few that do make it to the uterus need to climb their way up the fallopian tube where conception actually takes place. Some couples may just need a little help. IUI is usually the first line of fertility treatment for couples unable to conceive.

Who is eligible for IUI?

Not everyone is eligible for IUI. The IVF clinic will conduct a series of tests which will include blood tests, an ultrasound, an HSG test for women. Men will need to get a sperm analysis. IUI is usually recommended for couples when:

  • Women have abnormalities in their cervical muscles
  • Men suffer from ejaculation dysfunction
  • Unexplained infertility
  • Minimal to moderate Endometriosis
  • Mild problems with sperm count and motility
  • The woman has had a history of pelvic infections

Certain conditions must be prevalent for the IUI process to work:

  • The female must ovulate on her own or with the help of fertility medication
  • At least one fallopian needs to be open
  • Sperm must be of fairly good quality. IUI works well with normal or subnormal sperm count. If a man has very low sperm count, the doctor may recommend IVF instead of IUI

How is IUI conducted?

The IUI process bypasses the vagina and the cervix by injecting sperm directly into the uterus. This way, more sperm is able to make it to the fallopian tube raising the chances of pregnancy. In fact, the chances of getting pregnant with IUI is much higher than natural intercourse.

IUI is performed at the time of ovulation. The timing needs to be precise, even more, precise than intercourse. Because the timing needs to be so perfect, we usually call the couple to our clinic to determine the time of ovulation. Monitoring ovulation with ultrasound is always done to assess the follicular growth, number of follicles and ovulation time.  We do not recommend that couples time their ovulation using an app or temperature charting during the IUI process.

Sperm must be prepared for IUI process

Sperm is separated from seminal fluid in this process which is often called “sperm washing”. Seminal fluid contains many chemicals which can be harmful to a woman if injected into the uterus. The sperm is separated very carefully from the seminal fluid in a special IVF lab. The sperm is then collected in a catheter and ejected inside the uterus.

Steps You Can Take to Improve Pregnancy Success with IUI Treatment

IUI success can depend on a lot of factors such as the age of the woman and fertility medicine used during the treatment. A high majority of couples will likely achieve success after 3 to 4 IUI treatments.

1. Improve your diet

Diet can influence the success of your IUI treatment. You should include a diet that is rich in protein. If you are a vegetarian include lentils (daal), dairy products such as low-fat paneer or curds. Lower your intake of carbohydrates such as rice and potatoes. Replace these with good carbs such as brown rice, whole wheat grain, oatmeal, and beans. Avoid syrupy desserts and junk food! For more on this, read this article.

2. Exercise

Exercise is recommended to improve IUI success. Exercise in moderation.  Live an active lifestyle. Avoid sitting in one place for long periods of time. Take a brisk walk every day for at least 30 to 45 minutes.

3. Don’t stress

Many couples are tense and anxious during the IUI process. The clinical tests and atmosphere of an IVF clinic can add to the stress. Here at Xenith, we provide a friendly environment. We want to put you at ease during the entire process. A relaxed, positive approach will achieve better results!

4. Acupuncture may help

Acupuncture treatment is recommended 1 to 3 months prior to the IUI, whenever possible. A study conducted in Israel and reported by the Tennessee Reproductive Health Center showed that acupuncture can help to significantly raise IUI success. Benefits include reduced stress, increased egg quality, improved blood flow to the uterus and ovaries, decreased side effects of medication, and supporting early pregnancy.

5. Take supplements prescribed by the doctor

Take supplements that the doctor has prescribed. Depending on your health, the doctor may prescribe certain supplements that can help support good health. Make sure you take these as prescribed by the doctor. It seems a simple step but so many forget to take their supplements regularly.

6. After the IUI, enjoy sex

Sex after IUI is often recommended to couples. During the act, the uterus contracts and expands helping to push the injected sperm in the uterus to the fallopian tube. It is also a way to bond intimately with your partner, relieving stress and expressing unity. However, in certain cases, your doctor may advise waiting at least 48 hours after the procedure.

To summarize

Years ago, couples who had difficulty conceiving had no options available to them. It was not an easy road for them. Thanks to science and technology, having your own children is now more than a possibility for childless couples. There is much hope so keep a positive, happy outlook!

Xenith Advanced Fertility Clinic has qualified doctors and is the best IVF clinic in Pune. We provide all the treatment couples need under one roof in a comfortable, friendly environment. Schedule a consultation today!

IUI vs IVF: Which Treatment is Best?

Most couples undergoing infertility treatment may find it a conundrum to choose between Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) and In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). The decision is related to several issues and prospective couples should dive deep into understanding IUI and IVF before they make a decision. Your doctor will guide you in the process.

When couples do have a choice between IUI and IVF, here are a few factors they should consider.

Costs: A single IUI procedure usually comes to Rs. 10,000. IUI can be done with no medication but in some cases, the doctor may prescribe medication to stimulate the ovaries. These medicines and/or injections would add to the cost of the IUI procedure. While many couples have achieved pregnancy in the first cycle itself, it generally takes 3 to 4 IUI cycles for this treatment to succeed. The total cost of each IUI could be in the range of Rs. 15,000 to Rs. 20,000. An IVF cycle would be in the range of Rs. 90,000 to over Rs. 1.5 lakhs. There might be other costs to consider as well for IVF treatment. You can read all about the costs related to IVF here.

Success rates: IVF treatment is known to have higher success rates than IUI. It is however a more expensive line of treatment as we have seen above. However, on a per cycle basis, the cost of IUI may seem more attractive than the cost of an IVF cycle. But if you consider the odds carefully under the guidance of your doctor, you may find that IVF would be a more affordable treatment that achieves higher rates of success.

Here, at Xenith, we generally see success rates that are higher than the average:

  • 70% and above for IVF
  • Around 33% for IUI

Procedures: The procedure for IUI is very different from IVF. An important difference? The IUI process is less invasive. The purpose of the IUI process is to speed up the time that sperm take to reach the egg in the fallopian tube.

The tough journey of sperm

On average a man ejaculates around 60 million sperm but only about a very small percentage survive the tough journey through the vagina and cervix and into the uterus where guided by chemicals released from the egg, they find their way up the fallopian tube.

IUI makes the journey a little easier for sperm

In the IUI process, the sperm is collected from your partner (or donor) and “prepared”. Preparation involves separating the sperm from the seminal fluid. Only the sperm is collected in a catheter and inserted at the top of the uterus. From here, the journey to the fallopian tube is much shorter. This increases the chances of sperm fertilizing the egg, particularly in cases where there is mild to moderate issues in sperm count.

In contrast, the IVF process is more invasive. During the IVF procedure, women need to undergo ovarian stimulation to increase both the quantity and quality of eggs. Eggs are retrieved from the ovaries through a small surgical process.

Unlike IUI, fertilization in the IVF process takes place within the very controlled environment of a laboratory. The sperm is carefully injected into the egg by a qualified embryologist and allowed to grow in favorable conditions. The new embryo is carefully monitored and when the time is right, usually within 3 to 5 days, the newly formed embryo is carefully inserted into the uterus which is ready to receive the embryo. A successful embryo transfer results in the attaching of itself to the lining of the uterus – a process called implantation.

There are many advances in IVF technology which include freezing of sperm, eggs, and embryos. This is usually done during the first IVF cycle. Frozen sperm/egg can be used in subsequent cycles.

Safety: Both IUI and IVF are safe treatments. The IVF treatment requires a surgical procedure under general anesthesia; the IUI procedure does not. The proper monitoring, the choice of medication, and general care can greatly reduce side effects caused by medication, particularly in the IVF treatment when the ovaries need to be stimulated to produce more and better-quality eggs.

Couples may benefit from a good diet and exercise regiment starting 90 days prior to either treatment. Acupuncture, yoga, and other alternate therapies may help to reduce stress and anxiety. These changes in your lifestyle can help boost the success of both treatments.

When IUI is not an option for you

For some couples, IUI is not an option. For instance, women who are over 35 are usually requested to undergo the IVF process as egg quantity and quality tend to decline by this age. Age is not the only factor that determines a couple’s need for IVF. Other instances include blocked fallopian tubes, a history of pelvic infections, and male infertility issues. IVF works with a wider range of infertility issues and as said before, has a higher success rate than IUI. Doctors will conduct a thorough evaluation and present the choices you have based on the results of various fertility tests.

Conclusion

After a complete fertility screening, consider your options. Consult with a board-certified reproductive endocrinologist who can guide you in the decision-making process.

Xenith is the best IVF clinic in Pune and the place where you can begin the journey toward making your dreams come true – whether it is IUI or IVF – we truly want to make it happen for you! Schedule a consult with us.

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