Trying to conceive is hardcore . . . but then add to that a global epidemic, an indefinite lockdown, social isolation, and canceled IVF cycles, and the level of hardcore goes off the scale.
Every day we receive emails from readers who need to feel like they are doing something positive with this time, that they aren’t wasting time, that they are getting themselves ‘fertility fit’, and ready to start treatment when clinics finally open .
We turned to the lovely team at Hart Fertility to help us answer your questions about using this lockdown time wisely.
Is it possible to improve your fertility’?
Yes, we believe that you can improve your fertility. Implementing small changes in your everyday life has the potential to lead to more significant improvements in your fertility, without you even being aware of them.
A BMI higher than 30 will make falling pregnant more difficult. With a little effort, it should be possible to bring your BMI within the optimal range, not above 25. It’s important to mention that you should avoid smoking and limit alcohol.
We recommend using the time that COVID-19 has presented us with to prepare your body and mind for fertility treatment with a nutritious diet, good sleep, exercise, yoga, and such practices to bring your body into harmony.
How long does it take to make a positive change to your fertility?
This depends on the intervention. Stopping smoking and weight loss would show effects. Weight loss is particularly useful in obese women dealing with PCOS . We encourage any positive change, as it has the potential to have an immediate effect.
Within that time, what changes can be made, and what are those changes going to do?
Lifestyle is increasingly being recognised as an outcome-determining factor infertility treatment, in terms of the balance of benefits and risks related to the welfare of the future child. According to NICE guidelines, lifestyle factors mentioned above can affect how you respond to fertility treatment.
However, it should be noted that the quality of a woman’s egg is largely determined by her age.
How does eating well improve an IVF cycle? Are there specific diets that you tell patients to stick to?
There aren’t necessarily specific diets but do focus on eating a well-balanced diet and reducing the intake of processed and refined foods. Increasing the number of fresh veggies and nuts (barring a nut allergy) has been found to assist in improving IVF outcomes. Folic acid should also be included in your diet to prepare your body for pregnancy.
With everyone on lockdown, we can’t keep up with holistic treatments like acupuncture or reflexology or massage, but are there other therapies that you feel patients can do at home that will help with their wellbeing?
Yoga, guided meditation, and gratitude journaling, taking up a hobby that allows you to celebrate and express your creative side, doing short online courses that you never had time to do before;
Why not practice aerobic exercises if your garden is big enough, and YouTube based indoor workouts.
With no real structure to our lives at the moment, a cocktail hour seems to be getting earlier, and daily for that matter. Are we damaging our fertility by drinking every day?
It was national alcohol awareness month now in April in South Africa, so we would like to shed some light on the detrimental effects alcohol may have on your fertility. Reduced natural conception has been reported at doses as low as one drink per week. The scarce data suggests that female alcohol consumption before the IVF attempt adversely affects oocyte retrieval and leads to lower pregnancy and higher miscarriage rates.
Male drinking leads to more miscarriages and lower live birth rates. These effects were found to be dose-dependent and considerably higher when the timing of consumption was closer to the IVF attempt.
Is your clinic now closed?
No, we are still operating. We are managing our cycles according to SASREG’s recommendations and guidelines. We re-opened our doors on, 22nd April for consultations and ultrasound scans. We are planning IVF cycles on an individual basis and limiting the number of patients we are seeing. HART Fertility is following SASREG guidelines on how to treat fertility patients during the lockdown.
Can people still get in touch with you?
Yes, our landlines and all our usual lines of communication are open and we are seeing patients at our facilities. Both staff and patients are obeying the rules regarding distancing and hygiene according to SASREG’s recommendations and guidelines.
Take heart that we are all in this together. IVF patients worldwide have been affected, and as a clinic, we wish to encourage every patient to hang in there
Take this time to focus on yourself, your body, your mind, and very importantly, your family. We know that as soon as lockdowns are lifted, you will need all areas of support when moving forward with your treatment.
Please stay keyed in with us on social media for updates and assistance. Our best efforts are focused on supporting you and protecting your treatment outcomes. Our staff is on hand at any time to answer your questions and queries.