Top 5 Resources to Improve Your Chances of IVF Success

To support you on your fertility journey, I have gathered my Top 5 resources to improve your chances of IVF success. When you are preparing for an IVF cycle, it can sometimes feel like your body is a bit out of your control. You want your time, energy and investment to result in a healthy pregnancy, but it seems like most of the decisions are in the doctor’s hands. However, there are still things you can do to improve the odds.

This is the time to invest in your well-being and prepare your body to be a vessel for new life. If simple things like having acupuncture on the day of embryo transfer can increase IVF pregnancy rates from 26% to 42% (as was indicated in one study), imagine how much a combination of eating well, stretching and mentally preparing for IVF could make a difference! The clients I have worked with who have done some or all of these thing have had the best results. These 5 things help improve your response to the medications, build a healthy endometrial lining and increase your receptivity to the developing embryo.

1. Optimize your diet and supplements – You can eat your way to better fertility! I love the clear, concise and research-based program Chris Kresser has put together in The Healthy Baby Code. 
And book an appointment to see a Naturopathic Doctor to make sure the supplements you are taking are right for you. Check in with Dr. Rachel Stewart of Dr. Jenny Ma at Living Wellness Centre

2. Move, stretch, massage and open – Getting exercise helps to move your energy around so it doesn’t get stuck, which is prone to happening with the tension of the early morning clinic visits and pressure of the cycle.
In Surrey, see Elena or Salveen at Origin’s Health for osteopathic manual practice in the first half of your cycle. 
Spend 30 minutes a day doing a yoga for fertility DVD.

3. Give your feelings some space – It’s common to feel a little sensitive during this process! The people around you will likely have well intentioned advice about staying positive, which can backfire and set you up for feeling guilty for all of the anxieties and negative feelings you may be having.
Reserve some time to get all of these feelings out of your system. If you hold them in, even unconsciously, they can block up your system and leave you feeling drained and crabby. Blogging or journalling are a couple of great ways to keep it flowing. Or tell your story in writing with Firefly.

4. See it happening – Visualize each step as it is happening, your healthy eggs growing in the follicles, nourished by ample blood flow and wonderful nutrition. Your lining thickening with rich blood, becoming lush and receptive. The moment you share the positive result with your loved ones. Download a free relaxation meditation or buy the fertility meditation series from Circle and Bloom and listen to it when you are feeling overwhelmed and alone.

5. Get some Acupuncture – Acupuncture has been extensively studied for the beneficial effects is has in supporting IVF. Studies show acupuncture before and after embryo transfer can increase the success rate of in vitro fertilization (IVF) to 42%, compared with 26% in the control group. Women who had acupuncture often report feeling less anxious, more relaxed and at peace during their IVF cycle. Optimal care for IVF clients includes at least 8 acupuncture sessions before your egg retrieval. Contact Raeghan Siemens to book your sessions.

By Tanya Smith

The Waiting Game

Whether you have tried naturally to conceive or had an IVF (in vitro fertilization), the wait until you can find out if you are pregnant can be long and filled with emotional highs and lows. Women often ask “is there anything I can do to improve my chance of becoming pregnant?” The following are a few ideas how you can help this process:

  • Stay warm at all costs, use a hot water bottle, warm teas and soups.
  • Do deep belly breathing to really increase the flow of energy to your
  • uterus.
  • And some think eating pineapple, particularly the core, can be helpful.
  • Keep exercise to low impact.
  • Watch comedies, studies have shown laughing after an IVF can increase your chance of becoming pregnant.


Good Luck!

Preconception Planning

It is a very exciting to begin thinking that you are ready to start your family. Bringing awareness to your health, mind and spirit will give your baby the best start to life. Preconception planning can help you and your partner understand how to boost your chances of a healthy pregnancy.

  • Stop taking birth control 3 -6 months prior to you starting to try to concieve. Sometimes it takes awhile for your cycle to become regular after stop your birth control.
  • Do a detox
  • Start keeping track of your cycle. Note how many days it is from day 1 of your period to your next period. ( Note: day 1 is the first day of full bleeding).
  • Pay attention to when you may be ovulating. Signs of ovulation are cervical mucus that is like egg whites, an increase in libido, and  brief pain around your ovary.
  • Take your prenatal vitamin and essential fatty acids ( EFA)  3 months prior to you starting to try to conceive.
  • Establish an exercise routine

Remember that becoming pregnant may take some time, 50% of couple become pregnant within the first 6 months of trying to conceive, while 85% become pregnant with in the first year.


Not Getting Pregnant – When to ask for help

Most couples conceive with in 6 months – 1 year from trying, however, this can feel like an eternity. If you have been trying to conceive for a while, and are thinking you may need advice, support and help, the following steps are what I recommend to my clients.

After 3 months of trying to conceive:

Try to keep track of the length of your menstrual cycles. Charting Basal Body Temps (BBTs) for several months, as well using home Ovulation Predictor Kits and recording the results.

It also a good time to optimize your health and fertility with supportive care, such as acupuncture, Chinese Medicine, naturopathy, and chiropractics.

At 6 months, visit your family doctor and request the following blood tests:


  • FSH (on day 3 of your cycle)
  • LH
  • Estradiol ( on day 3 of your cycle)
  • Progesterone ( on day 21 or 7 days post ovulation)
  • Prolactin
  • Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH), Free T3, Free Thyroxine (T4)
  • Total Testosterone, Free Testosterone
  • Anti-Mullerian Hormone (AMH) ( There is a cost to this test)

After 6 months, ask for a referral  from your family doctor to a fertility centre to further investigate your fertility issues.

ULTRASOUND EXAM(S): On the day of LH surge are used to assess the thickness of the endometrium (lining of the uterus), monitor follicle development and assess the condition of the uterus and ovaries. If the lining is thin, it indicates a hormonal problem. Fibroid tumors can often be detected via ultrasound, as well as abnormalities of the shape of the uterus and ovarian cysts. In some cases, endometriosis can also be detected. Many doctors order a second ultrasound two or three days after the first. This second ultrasound confirms that the follicle actually did release and can rule out lutenized unruptured follicle (LUF) syndrome—a situation in which eggs ripen but do not release from the follicle.

HYSTEROSALPINOGRAM (HSG): This test is used to examine a woman’s uterus and fallopian tubes. It is essentially an x-ray procedure in which a radio-opaque dye is injected through the cervix into the uterus and fallopian tubes. This “dye” appears white on the x-ray, and allows the radiologist and your doctor to see if there are any abnormalities, such as an unusually shaped uterus, tumors, scar tissue or blockages in the fallopian tubes. If you are trying to get pregnant in the same cycle as an HSG, make sure to schedule the test PRIOR to ovulation so that there is no danger of “flushing out” a released egg or developing embryo.

HYSTEROSCOPY: If a uterine abnormality is suspected after the HSG, your doctor may opt for this procedure, performed with a thin telescope mounted with a fiber optic light, called a hysteroscope. The hysteroscope is inserted through the cervix into the uterus and enables the doctor to see any uterine abnormalities or growths. “Photos” are taken for future reference. This procedure is usually performed in the early half of a woman’s cycle so that the build-up of the endometrium does not obscure the doctor’s view. However, if the doctor is planning to do an endometrial biopsy at the same time, it is done near the end of the cycle.

LAPAROSCOPY: A narrow fiber optic telescope is inserted through a woman’s abdomen to look at the uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries and to discern endometriosis or pelvic adhesions, and is the best diagnostic tool for evaluating the ovaries. This test us usually done two or three days before menstruation is expected, and only after an HCG beta blood test ensures the woman is not pregnant.

ENDOMETRIAL BIOPSY:This procedure involves a scraping a small amount of tissue from the endometrium shortly before menstruation is due— between 11 and 13 days from LH surge. It should ONLY be performed after an HCG blood test shows the woman is not pregnant. This test is used to determine if a woman has a luteal phase defect, a hormonal imbalance which prevents a woman from sustaining a pregnancy because not enough progesterone is produced.

SEMEN ANALYSIS: You’ll be asked to provide a semen sample, usually by masturbating and ejaculating into a specimen jar. Your doctor will examine your sperm under a microscope for count, shape, appearance, and movement

What is Acupuncture?

2013abc st 36 and GB 34Acupuncture is a safe, effective science for restoring a healthy balance throughout the body.

According to theory, Qi (chi) is the vital life energy present in all living organisms. It’s the principal force that governs the body’s circulation, metabolism, transportation, elimination, cleansing, purging and healing.

Qi circulates in the body along 14 energy pathways, called meridians. These meridians are linked to specific internal organs and systems. There are more than a thousand points along these pathways that can be stimulated to enhance the flow of Qi.

In the course of a treatment, slender needles, heat, pressure, or a combination of these tools are used to stimulate specific points along the pathways. The idea is to ‘unblock’ those paths so that the body can use its core energy to relieve pain and begin to heal.

Much like the flow of a river, when debris falls in the pathway, the river runs more slowly. If the riverbed is completely blocked, the flow stops. The water turns stagnant.

By opening these pathways of energy, we allow the body’s vital energy to reach and replenish weakened organs, rid itself of toxins, and restore its natural balance.

Acupuncture can be supplemented with other alternative treatments, such as electro-acupuncture, cupping and moxibustion, to restore health.

What you’ve heard is true: acupuncture is relatively painless. We use safe, sterile, disposable needles. These very fine needles are inserted under the skin to redirect energy or unblock the pathway.

Sensations during treatment can vary from being hardly noticeable to a tingling or heavy feeling. While you rest in a quiet, comfortable room, listening to music, the needles do their work. You might even fall asleep. In the course of your treatment, we often supplement acupuncture with massage. Patients usually feel a profound sense of rest.