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How to Boost Your Chances of Having a Successful Embryo Transfer

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By Dr. Sarah Zadek ND

There are many things you can do to support the health and function of your uterus (and whole body!) before an embryo transfer to optimize your gestational environment. You want to be in the best shape (mentally, emotionally and physically) to receive and nurture embryos and improve the chances of a successful transfer.

How can I improve the health of my endometrial lining?

There are many factors that affect your lining health including:

  • your nutrient status and the amount of available energy to your cells
  • good circulation to deliver these nutrients and oxygen to your uterus
  • and a healthy microbiome with the right beneficial bacteria.

Now is a great time to focus on your diet and lifestyle and minimize the impact of things that can interfere in your fertility like sleep deprivation, stress, excess inflammation, and hormone disruptors.

Eat fertility-friendly foods

Your body uses carbohydrates, fats and protein to provide energy and the building blocks that your cells need to grow and divide. Healthy fats like Omega-3’s will become the backbone for your reproductive hormones, like estrogen and testosterone, and will control inflammation in the body.

Fiber is also your friend. It not only keeps your bowels regular, but it supports your metabolic health and keeps your gut bacteria happy and healthy. Maintaining stable blood sugar levels with fiber-rich foods can help keep arteries dilated for healthy blood flow. Meanwhile, high sugar intake and low fiber negatively impacts the bacteria in your gut, vagina and uterus.

Get started by following these key tips:

• Focus on a whole-food diet, and skip on all the processed foods
• Eat the rainbow: Keep your diet colourful by including multiple sources of antioxidants like berries, bell peppers, onions, citrus fruits, and green leafy vegetables.
• Get your fat from healthy sources like avocado, nuts, seeds, and eggs
• Aim for 25g of fiber per day and limit or avoid sources of simple sugars such as refined white sugar, white breads, white pasta, white rice, crackers, cookies, and pastries.
• Get your carbohydrates from low-GI sources—think whole grains, legumes (like lentils and chickpeas), vegetables, and fruits like apples and berries.
• Avoid skipping meals, intermittent fasting and ketogenic diets.
• Reduce your exposure to pesticides—choose organic produce when possible, and when not, ensure to wash produce items well

Practice healthy habits

There are many lifestyle factors that can interfere with successful embryo implantation (and your fertility, in general). Not only will developing healthy habits help this stage of your fertility but they will set you up for a healthier pregnancy.

• Reduce your caffeine consumption (max 1 cup or 100mg per day)
• Increase your water and electrolyte consumption. Most people should aim for 2L of water per day.
• Get enough quality sleep—8 hours per night
• Reduce stress on the body and mind: avoid overworking, high-intensity exercise, or extreme diets (like keto and intermittent fasting).
• Practice stress management techniques: breathing, meditation, journaling, moderate exercise, laughing, engaging in a hobby or activity you enjoy (like reading, painting, puzzling, playing music, etc.)

Tailor movement and exercise

Sitting all day can restrict blood flow around the pelvic organs and the lower body. Movement promotes circulation and benefits metabolic and mental health. Exercise is also a great way to relieve stress, improve mood, and keep blood sugar and insulin levels managed.

There are many safe forms of exercise that you can do in your embryo transfer cycle including:

  • walking
  • hiking
  • yoga
  • barre
  • dancing
  • Tai Chi
  • low-impact aerobics.

Aim for 2 hours of moderate exercise per week.

Decrease exposure to hormone disruptors

Phthalates are a group of chemicals and plasticizers that have been linked to reproductive toxicity and infertility. They are found in plastics, synthetic fragrances, perfumes and colognes, personal body products, and nail polish.

  • You can decrease the impact of phthalates on your health by avoiding products that contain synthetic fragrances (unless labelled as “phthalate-free”).
  • You’ll also want to ditch household products with synthetic fragrances such as air freshers and laundry fabric softeners.
  • When it comes to your food and beverages, replace the use of plastic water bottles with glass or stainless steel.
  • Swap out any plastic food containers or bags with glass or food-grade silicone.

Take the right supplements

Taking the right supplements for you is important—too much or too little of certain nutrients or antioxidants can impact your success. Talk to one of our Conceive Health NDs for a supplement plan tailored to you and your needs. At the very least, ensure you’re getting 400mcg of folic acid daily.

Try fertility acupuncture

Acupuncture does a lot to boost your chances of getting pregnant. It improves blood flow to your uterine lining and can increase thickening, reduces contractility of the uterus, and lowers the body’s stress response. Fertility-based acupuncture also helps to stimulate signals in your nervous system that regulate reproductive hormones, while enhancing the feeling of relaxation. These effects combined help create a more favourable environment for conception.

Acupuncture is often recommended right before and after an embryo transfer to create a more relaxed and conducive atmosphere for conception. It is also ideal to have regular acupuncture in the weeks leading up to the embryo transfer as part of a preconception plan.

Acupuncture is available through Conceive Health at all TRIO locations. Pre- and post-transfer acupuncture treatments can be booked through Conceive Health at our downtown Toronto location.

Get into the right mental space

The fertility journey can be long and difficult. It’s important to be kind to yourself during this process and to nurture your mental and emotional health as much as your physical health. Think about what you need and what would work best for you during this time:

• Take time off work if you’re able to, and/or create any necessary boundaries (like not answering work emails past a certain time)
• Reach out to friends, family, or anyone in your support system
• Consider joining one of TRIO’s support groups and connect with others who have gone (or are going through) the same thing. Learn more about fertility support groups.
• Focus on your self-care. Take at least 20 minutes for yourself each day (not scrolling on your phone).

For more information about preconception nutrition, supplements, acupuncture and more, simply book a complimentary 15-minute discovery call with a Conceive Health fertility naturopath or visit https://conceivehealth.com to learn more.