In a perfect world I would be able to work with every IVF patient for 3-6 months before they ever begin stims. We could spend time improving imbalances in the body, adopting health promoting behaviors, reducing baseline stress levels and building a support network that will ensure the process doesn’t wear you down.

Obviously, it’s not a perfect world and often enough I have women call me saying, “my retrieval cycle starts next week, will acupuncture help me?”

The answer is, probably? Honestly that close to a cycle it’s hard to know what kind of effect we can have but most of my patients, as well as me, believe that it’s better to give it a shot than not try at all.

In those situations, here are the last minute lifestyle recommendations I give.


Preparing for egg retrieval


Again, ideally everyone who is trying to get pregnant (IVF or not) should be focusing on reducing harmful behaviors (alcohol, smoking, cannabis, etc), and improving exercise, nutrition and reducing baseline stress levels. 


But when you are very close to a retrieval cycle them most important things become hydration, circulation and micronutrients


Hydration: Hydration can influence the consistency of the fluid within the ovaries. This fluid is aspirated along with the eggs during the retrieval process. Maintaining good hydration levels may contribute to an optimal environment for the collection of eggs. It will help improve cellular function and improve blood volume which can help with circulation. Aim for 80oz of water each day. 


Circulation: Good blood flow to the ovaries will deliver oxygen, hydration and nutrients (vitamins and minerals) which is essential for optimal egg quality. This close to retrieval we are not necessarily talking about “working out”, you will have exercise restrictions during your stim phase that limit workout options anyway. What you need is some daily movement. Walking is going to be your go to here. Aim for 30-45 minutes per day.


Nutrients aka antioxidants, vitamins and minerals: While hydration and circulation are important, antioxidants are king for egg quality. 


They work by neutralizing harmful molecules called free radicals. Free radicals are highly reactive molecules that can cause damage to cells, including eggs. This damage is known as oxidative stress. Antioxidants counteract the effects of oxidative stress and contribute to better egg health in several ways:

  • Protection against DNA Damage
  • Improve Mitochondrial Function
  • Improve Cellular Membrane Integrity
  • Improve Follicular Fluid Environment
  • Regulation of Oxidative Stress
  • Improved Hormonal Environment with in the ovary
  • Enhanced Cellular Repair

Antioxidants come from fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds so these foods should be plentiful in your diet leading up to and during retrieval. Taking 200-600mg of CoEnzymeQ10 (an antioxidant) is a good idea.

So stay hydrated, go for a walk and eat your fruits and vegetables. Simple but effective ways to improve your IVF outcomes.

Stay tuned for last minute lifestyle recommendations when preparing for your embryo transfer.




Have more questions on this subject?

Dr. Emily Rea is here to answer your fertility questions and walk with you on your fertility journey. Send us a message any time!