Improving IVF Success Rates with Naturopathic Medicine
In IVF this is especially important - technologies such as ICSI can allow doctors to select the healthiest looking sperm out of millions, but in most IVF cycles there are only 3-20 eggs retrieved at a time, so the health of each individual egg can have a huge impact on the number of embryos and your chances of achieving that “BFP.”
Eggs Need Lots of Energy!
Oxidative stress is created by tiny, destructive molecules called “free radicals.” These are a normal part of our bodies’ energy production, but they will also go up in the case of inflammation, emotional or physical stress, and certain toxic exposures. Diet also plays a huge part in a person’s overall free radical levels - certain foods are very high in free radicals, or will turn into free radicals once they’re eaten and broken down. When free radicals increase, so does oxidative stress, and damage to growing egg cells can occur, which means less healthy embryos and lower chances of success.
Eating for Happy Eggs
As far as food goes, this means eating an antioxidant-rich diet that includes lots of brightly colored fruits and vegetables and plenty of foods rich in vitamin c, beta-carotene, and bioflavonoids. In many cases, especially for individuals who are struggling with issues such as autoimmune disease, endometriosis, or PCOS, avoiding inflammatory foods such as refined sugar and certain types of fats and oils can make a huge impact on egg and embryo quality.
Herbs and Supplements for Egg Quality
For example, melatonin, a supplement that is often used to help people fall asleep, also happens to be a potent scavenger of free radicals. In a 2014 study, people who took 3mg of melatonin nightly for as little as two weeks had a close to 50% higher fertilization rate than people who didn't take anything at all.
There are many other herbs and nutrients that have been shown to improve egg and sperm quality, increase fertilization rate, and even increase implantation. However, it's always important that any herbal or nutrient regimen is tailored to meet your unique needs. Some herbs and supplements may actually get in the way of achieving a pregnancy for certain individuals. Others may only really help people with specific health issues such as PCOS or autoimmune disease. Because of that I always recommend working with a naturopathic doctor or other healthcare provider who has experience with herbal and nutrient therapies.