Updated: Feb 5
We were one of those couples diagnosed with unexplained infertility. We were hoping that IVF would give us an answer and if we were fortunate enough a baby. We were fit and healthy, so we gave no thought to improving our egg and sperm health.
IVF surely was going to be the answer and we were going to be able to start moving on with our lives after 3 years of dealing with infertility.
But in reality, it was just the beginning of our journey to parenthood. We had a shambles of an IVF, only producing 4 fragmented embryos, resulting with a BFN. We were left thinking we couldn't produce viable embryos, and because my husband's sperm was fine, it was my fault.
Was this was the answer to our infertility?
The doctors thought so. When discussing what we could do to improve our embryo quality, we were told "nothing"! In the letter we got a few weeks later it stated: "They are keen to consider a further attempt, but are aware that the overall chances of an ongoing pregnancy is lower than average given our findings during the cycle and they do you appreciate that the treatment itself does provide a lot of information about the underlining quality of the eggs within the ovaries. There is nothing that we can do to further enhance the situation...." So that was that. There was nothing we could do.
I was hurt and ready to move on. Not away from the hope of having a family, but from the conventional way, doctors treat infertility. Considering that nothing was the doctor’s best solution, I came to the realisation that I had to take control and do something about my health and my low-quality eggs.
But what? How? Where do I go?
I TRIED IT ALL, well at least all the mainstream advise at the time.
I was lucky enough to stumble onto the book called Is Your Body Baby-Friendly?: Unexplained Infertility, Miscarriage & IVF Failure - Explained by Alan E. Beer, M.D. and we had a good friend give us a much need kick-up-the about true health and nutrition. These both got me thinking out of the box and I started to learn about the necessary changes I needed to make, to improve my health and the health of my eggs.
Before our next round of IVF, I learnt a lot about how the quality of your embryos could have an impact on our fertility journey. This quality matters, whether you are trying to conceive naturally or through IUI/IVF. The health of your embryos can have a significant effect on whether or not implantation will occur and the viability of the pregnancy.
Poor embryos quality is becoming one of the main causes of infertility, recurrent miscarriage and failed IVF cycles.
And for the ever growing population of couples who are dealing with low embryo quality, it's not until their first failed IVF that they even realise they have an issue. Which is heartbreaking, to say the least. There are many genetic factors which you may not have control over, but there are a few factors that can affect the quality of your embryos, which you do have control over. These including environmental, diet and stress. Having a simple understanding of how to improve these factors, can save you time, money and increase your chances of a successful pregnancy.
Between our two IVF’s we made radical changes in our diet and lifestyle. Yes, WE. My husband had to make the same changes I did, even though his little swimmers were fine. Remember it takes two to make an embryo and honestly, I needed his support during this huge lifestyle change. (Just an FYI: He's swimmer improved by the millions & now we were working with great swimmers.)
We took over a year to make these changes, but if you can’t wait that long, take at least 90 fully committed days to increase egg and sperm health and quality. For us, the outcome of embryo quality was dramatic. We went from not one healthy embryo to five little beauties. We did not do PGS/PGD testing and it turned out I had a bigger issue other than poor embryo quality, but we did end up with ONE golden embryo, which became our first son.
They say hindsight is a b*tch, and for me that couldn't be truer.
I wish I knew what I know now – it would have saved us time, money and a lot of heartaches. I once read a post about the 67 different things a women did to increase her fertility health and felt overwhelmed by it, even though I'm sure I've done more than that over my nine-year journey. If you're looking to make some changes, start slow and build from there. Trying to do it all at once can be too much and you’ll most likely quit before you’ve even started.
My top 5 tips to improve embryo health:
*Go organic (grass-fed), non-GMO with as much of your food as you can afford and filter your water if you're drinking from the tap.
*Find out what foods work and don't work for you! Foods that don't work for your body can cause inflammation, which can be impacting the health and quality of your eggs and sperm. The free (but long) route is an elimination diet, you'll get to know your body really well this way. Start with the obvious inflammatory foods - one, by one: Gluten, Wheat, Dairy, Soy & Sugar. If you see improvements, but still are not getting the results you want, look into going onto an Auto Immune Diet, which eliminates, eggs, nuts and nightshades. If you can get a food sensitivity test done, this will help speed the process of knowing what foods may be causing you issues.
*Go non-toxic within your home (cleaning, bath and beauty products). Toxins are all around us, some you have no control over. But the ones you use in your house, you do! Just by limiting your toxic exposure at home, you can improve your health greatly.
*SLEEP - it's got to be done. Find how many hours work for you and remember every hour before midnight is worth two hours. You detox when you sleep, so yet again it's another way to limit inflammation throughout your whole body leading to better quality eggs and sperm.
*Find an activity that truly helps you de-stress. Yoga, meditation, journaling, long walks or light runs. Claiming your mind, giving your adrenals a rest and finding the joy in the now has a whole positive mind-body impact that your embryos will thank you for.
Positive Thoughts, Positive Me
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Anything written or said about health and diet are our opinions, that we have formed over the years, through trial and error, study, reading, listening and observing. What worked for us, may not work for you. We are not doctors, nutritionists or dieticians and all medical advice should be gotten from a qualified professional. Any product recommendations are based on what we used during our infertility journies or wished we had.
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