Saturday, February 13, 2010

The temptation

As I begin to prepare myself for an IVF cycle, I have read many "old wives's tale" type treatments to "boost your odds" during an IVF cycle. Eat pineapple core on certain days, drink pomegranate juice, drink wheatgrass, eliminate a host of things from your diet, take DHEA...and the list goes on. I can't really find any scientific studies proving any of these things (not to say there aren't, but I haven't ran across any as easily), but there are many anecdotal stories out there about women with multiple failed IVFs who used x in their last attempt, had much better quality embryos, and conceived.

Today I found myself browsing Amazon looking for wheatgrass tablets. Supposedly they improve egg quality (and thus embryo quality), and since we are only fertilizing a limited number of eggs I thought it couldn't hurt to try. Just as I was about to put it into my shopping cart, I had to pause. How much are all of these "solutions" playing on my fears? Fears that these are our last attempts at a biological child....and we're paying a lot of money....so what if it doesn't work? Of course I want to do anything it takes to improve our chances of success, but where is that line?

With the Amazon page still open, I told DH about all of this. He could definitely understand my reasoning and fears, but he also doesn't want me to suddenly go crazy adding a million mysterious new things to my diet. And, being the engineer that he is, he wants to see proof that any of this would help. We agreed to ask what our RE recommends adding to or eliminating from our diets/ supplements at our nurse consultation, and then follow their guidelines.

What about you? Have you tried any less-conventional interventions to improve your odds of success? How did you decide which ones? I in no way want to imply that it is silly to do any of this, because, clearly, a part of me is ready to hit the grocery store to get every last "special food" that might help. And it certainly wouldn't be too difficult or strange to start drinking pomegranate juice... :)

25 comments:

Betty Rubble said...

Lets see...I've taken my fair share of a herb that I can't think of the name of right now...but its too help women with PCOS...I once bought false unicorn root from Ebay (though I never used it)...I've eaten enough pineapple to win a free trip to Hawaii...

The cycle we got pregnant I figured we had ZERO chance...even ordered my meds for "next time" because I was SO SURE it didn't work--I was convinced I had PMS and told everyone it hadn't worked...talk about negative nelly...

I have no point...just know you're not alone!

A said...

In various cycles, I have eaten pineapple, pumpkin, cut out coffee, left coffee in, had no sex during the 2ww, had sex during the 2ww, eaten brazil nuts, and taken baby aspirin and robitussin and mucinex.

This time, I'm cutting out coffee, eating brazil nuts, and having sex in the 2ww ;-) Hoping it's the cocktail for me!

Maybe I should go get some pomegranate juice!!

Amanda said...

There are some studies out there that have shown acupuncture boosts conception rates with IVF. At least one study I saw did it during transfer, but I would think several appts during a cycle would help.

I took BA because I thought it "couldn't hurt" but then when I found out I had the MTHFR turns out to be one of the best decisions I ever made.

Rachel DeBell said...

HA! I think you guys are wise to chat with your RE before wasting money. I get sooooo completely overwhelmed and confused with the do's and don'ts of all this! It just makes me laugh when I think of all the people out there eating and drinking everything they AREN'T supposed to and they brush shoulders with their husband...and BAM their pregnant. argh. So, who knows what really works?? Why does the world of play so much on our fears! Its brilliant marketing and yet there is something so wrong about it.

Praying and praying for you! I know God is going to take care of you through all of this. And I am excited to see what lies ahead for you guys!

Caroline said...

Hi Hillary,
I am so excited for you as you move forward on this journey. I will be praying my heart out for a wonderful outcome for you.

DH and I spent thousands of dollars on vitamin suppliments for our first IVF cycle. I also cut out all alcohol and caffeine and all sorts of other things from my diet.

Well - we had a pretty poor outcome from the first cycle despite all the money spent on suppliments. But lessons were learnt, my IVF medication was altered and the next cycle was the successful one.

I wish there was something you could do to make IVF more successful. I certainly found resting, taking more baths, keeping a journal and praying to be very helpful.

Hugs.

Aussie Girl said...

I've struggled with this too, wanting to maximize the chances of success but not wanting to buy into myths. I did acupuncture with our 1st IVF and will do again with our 2nd attempt because of recent studies saying it can help. I've also recently started a diet for endo to regulate my hormones, which is stricter than what I would normally do, but is in no way dangerous.

All the best as you try to figure this one out.

AplusB said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
AplusB said...

I've heard pineapple and brazil nuts are good for implantation. I'd be careful with any supplements I think it is an excellent idea to get your Dr.'s opinion. There are so many supplements out there that can actually do harm rather than help, so just make sure you get your Dr.'s ok!
Have you thought about acupuncture? I've read that especially during IVF, it can help enhance blood flow and improve implantation. I've found it very relaxing, which is a good thing, too!

Amy said...

I too have heard great things about acupuncture. I did it when we were trying to get pregnant and while we chose to go the adoption route, I still really enjoyed the acupuncture. It was very relaxing.

Robin said...

Hi there! I'm one of those crazy girls who went all out. We have MF and I have a low antral follicle count. First IVF was canceled, second one we got 4 eggs so on the third and what I felt like was our final shot, I ate an all organic diet, eliminated storing food in plastic containers, took DHEA, no caffine, low sugar, all natural cleaners and did acupuncture.

I too struggled with whether or not to do all that. Was I testing God? Was I not trusting enough? He certainly didn't need all that. But my mom is the one who convinced me. She asked if I had cancer, would I decline the treatments based on the same questions? Of course not.

My prayer was that the Lord would take my body and use it for His glory. My part was to offer Him the cleanest, most naturally healthy body I could. It's His temple and I wanted it to sparkle!

I will never know if all that made the difference but my antral follicle count doubled and we are 31 weeks pregnant with our miracle baby girl.

Wow, so that was a lot but all to say, I don't know if it matters what non-western measures you do or don't take as long as they are offered with a heart of humility and in a spirit of worship.

babygaga said...

Antioxidants have been shown to help with egg quality and MFI (so blueberries, red kidney beans, strawberris, apples and etc, should be helpful, can at least not hurt).

I´m not sure with wheatgrass how that should help, haven´t seen any scientific articles about that.

There are several scientific studies that show that Antioxidants do help with MFI, and there are few studies for females but the first ones are promising that it also is helpful for women.

And of course just healthy food or vitamin supplements

addingtothepack said...

I've never really followed any of the food advice, but I would totally get on board with Pomegranate juice just because it's hard for me to justify the price of that stuff otherwise. Mmmmmm.

I am so excited for you to start this cycle!

kdactyl said...

Hillary: I did accupuncture durning my IVF cycles. There are several studies showing increased pregnancy rates among women undergoing IVF if they do accuncture. I think it is one of two things...either it really works...or just the thought of it and the process of it puts you at ease and removes some of the stress that we all know can inhibit pregnancy. For me...it was really relaxing. Although I must say, whenever I had any sort of physical issue while going through the treatments...My accupuncturist would work on that too and it fixed it every time. He also was able to tell me the gender of my baby correctly just by my pulses...even when 3 u/s said it was a girl...he stuck to the boy prediction and he was RIGHT. It is worth looking into...but just make sure you get a practitioner who specializes in fertility.

The other thing I did was I started taking 1 baby aspirin a day just after egg retrieval...it is suppose to help with implantation. Then...my OB told me to just continue the baby aspirin my whole pregnancy because it helps with blood flow and is totally not harmful.

kd

Nicole said...

I actually never did any of the nonconventional diet tricks you're talking about. My docs have always said I didn't need to. (Clarify, I do eat more whey protein and gatorade during OHSS risk time, but that's a wildly accepted prevention method).
While I do think there isn't a lot of scientific or major benefit, if any, to doing so... I'm not against other people doing them because I can certainly relate to the "what if I had just xyz" and wanting to do everything possible to maximize our success. I do think, however, that suddenly changing your diet super close to med time isn't a good idea. Also, there will be PLENTY of changes you'll be adjusting to with IVF (med schedules, etc.) Who needs more? And if/when you conceive, there will be plenty of food restrictions on you. I'm interested to see what your doc says. My philosophy is just eat a healthy normal diet!!

Melis.sa said...

I think you're so right to check with your RE and see what he advises. I cut out caffeine before i got pg and miscarried my 2nd pregnancy and i'll never forget downing a mountain dew the day before I got my first ever BFP. I don't know, I'm at the point where i've been trying so long that I don't have the energy for more. :)

Please know that I am keeping you and your DH in my thoughts. I'm praying so hard for you guys to get a BFP.

Leah said...

I completely understand the fears. I had them as well. I tried some unconventional routes such as acupuncture. The acupuncturist than gave me some herbal tea that was supposed to increase my fertility. I guess I'll never know because the stuff tasted SO horrible I couldn't even stomach it.

My best advice is to just live your life as normal. That always seems to work the best. :-D

Heather said...

Oh yes, I have done my share! I don't know if I could even remember all of them!!

You've been nominated! Check out my blog! :)

andreajennine said...

I never did any supplements or weird dietary changes, but I'm kind of a skeptic about those things...

babyattheend said...

I've done the pineapple with almost all of my TWWs, mostly because I like the excuse to drink/eat the stuff. During my successful TWW, I drank pineapple juice mixed with V8 (to stave of OHSS), and gatorade (also for OHSS). The only supplement I added to my diet was Vitamin D because I read that there was a increase in pregnancies with added D in your diet. I don't know if it really helped, but I'd take it again during another TWW in the hopes that it helped this little one stick!

ABLynch said...

Oh goodness, I cut out sugars since PCOS is impacted by insulin, cut out alchohol and caffine, took prenatal vitamins to make sure I had a build up of Folic Acid and essentially started treating my body like it was pregnant. I wanted to be in the best possible place physically. And then DH and I errr...did the deed... every 36 hours as recomended by the urologist. So nothing too crazy, though I did consider a LOT of them. To jump on the acupuncture bandwagon, my friend did that with her IUI and was quickly successful! I looked into it when TTC, and discovered that my insurance actually covered it!

Rebecca said...

I keep "logic"ing myself out of all of them. The only one I've tried is pineapple. I'm a scientist and my DH is a statistician and I just can't seem to keep up the excitement of something that I haven't seen evidence for. I really wish I could, though, because then I could hold onto hope!

Alexicographer said...

LOL. I've tried wheatgrass, COQ10, baby aspirin, no alcohol, no caffeine, bedrest after transfer, no bedrest after transfer, acupuncture ... there's probably other stuff I've forgotten.

By the time I got to the cycle that worked, I felt I'd tried everything that "might" help. I didn't take any supplements (beyond a standard vitamin + folic acid) and did drink alcohol and coffee, and didn't do any bedrest (there's no scientific data to support bedrest post transfer, BTW, at least none that I've ever turned up) and injected my medications at sporadic times and in carefree doses (eh, you say 375 IU, I say 325 IU) yet, I got pregnant (I do think there's a rational explanation: I'd finally gotten my thyroid problem diagnosed and aggressively treated).

FWIW.

Mrs. Hammer said...

I just wanted to tell you I get organic frozen wheatgrass cubes from Whole Foods in the frozen veggie isle. I blend it into smoothies and can't even tell it's in there. Hammer had no idea either. I don't know if it will work but I am willing to try anything, even eating grass like a cow. Moo.

battynurse said...

Coming over from Mel's blog round up. I swear, infertility made me superstitious. I once bought a bunch of pineapple cups on the find out that it was supposed to be fresh. I tried any number of things that couldn't hurt and might help. Oh and then there was the liquid poo tea. I had an accupuncturist give me this herbal tea stuff that was the nastiest thing I'd ever put into my mouth and looked like liquid poo.

Sarang said...

Yes, I've definitely eaten/drank/done many of the things you and the other ladies who commented have done.

I think it's the fine line of doing what makes you feel "good" and stopping if it makes you feel nuts.

I would totally recommend pre/post-acupuncture during embryo transfer. It's best if it's onsite at your clinic, if possible.

I am also a fan of pineapple during the 2WW, but last time I ate too much and then worried about that. So, I need to remind myself of the fine line. Enough pineapple to feel good, but not overboard.

And definitely baby aspirin, but only after egg retrieval, not before. It's one thing a lot of the clinics do "just in case" and "can't hurt".

Good luck! I'm just starting IVF as well, 2nd time for me.