I mentioned several days ago that we had our first IVF consult with our doctor recently. We decided to move forward, and I began taking birth control pills on cycle-day 3. (How ironic that I would ever be taking birth control!) Since then, there has not been much to report. Andrew and I were required to meet with an infertility counselor before being allowed to move forward. We did that. Andrew thought it was a joke, but I love talking things out, so it was great as far as I was concerned!
Before meeting with my new IVF nurse for our teaching session (that happens tomorrow), I decided to make an appointment for a consult with an acupuncturist. I really know very little about acupuncture, but have heard through the grapevine that combining acupuncture with IVF could help increase chances of success. So I did a little of my own research, and sure enough…
Research has proven that acupuncture improves clinical pregnancy rates and live birth rates for women receiving IVF. One study even concluded that acupuncture helps to prevent egg implantation failure. (Source)
Although this research is controversial, and not acknowledged everywhere, it is acknowledged everywhere that, at the very least, acupuncture can enhance uterine blood flow. Acupuncture is not harmful to women who are going through IVF, and most women who combine the two swear by acupuncture. (Source)
The general consensus seems to be that having acupuncture done on the day of the embryo transfer (some people even recommend have it done before transfer, after transfer, and the two days following transfer) may be helpful in that it is psychologically helpful, and it can increase uterine blood flow, which could increase the chances of implantation.
Aside from acupuncture, there are several other ways to increase uterine blood flow. (Blood flow to the uterus is important because this is what helps build the uterine lining up, and in order for implantation to occur, the lining needs to be nice and thick.)
After ovulation, when the body is, theoretically, preparing for implantation, the uterine lining should be between 8 and 13mm. If the lining does not develop to this thickness, it will be difficult for the embryo to implant.
Eating to Improve Uterine Lining
What we eat can make a difference in the blood supply to our uterus. Here are some important guidelines to follow when eating to improve uterine lining:
- Cut out sugar, which upsets the delicate balance of our hormones (for those of us with PCOS, we should have already cut out sugar!)
- Eat a diet made up of whole foods.
- Fruits, veggies, grains, and seeds all contain phytoestrogens. Estrogen is what helps our uterine lining to get nice and thick, so adding a few foods that naturally contain estrogen can help.
- Do not eat peas, as they are natural contraceptives (Who knew?!)
- Do not eat soy. Soybeans contain isoflavones which mimic estrogen (phytoestrogens). Consumed in large or concentrated amounts, this can have a serious negative impact on fertility. Also, processed soy has been connected to impaired mineral absorption and thyroid dysfunction. (Who wants that when youre trying to conceive?)
- Eat iron-rich foods, which help nourish the blood.
Top 10 Iron Rich Foods
- Red meat
- Egg yolks
- Dark, leafy greens (spinach, collards)
- Dried fruit (prunes, raisins)
- Iron-enriched cereals and grains (check the labels)
- Mollusks (oysters, clams, scallops)
- Turkey or chicken giblets
- Beans, lentils, chick peas and soybeans
Just remember, if you choose to eat red meat (you do not have to, since there are so many other sources or iron available), make sure that you buy organic, grass fed meat that contains no added hormones. This is especially important for those of us with PCOS, as our hormones are already so delicate.
Exercise to Improve Uterine Lining
Leading an inactive lifestyle creates a situation of stagnation of blood flow to our uterus and other reproductive organs. Quite simply, if we sit around a lot, the blood flow to our uterus will be compromised. Walking and fertility yoga are two of the best ways to enhance circulation.
(I will post more about yoga and fertility tomorrow.)
Castor Oil Therapy to Improve Uterine Lining
A castor oil pack is a cloth soaked in castor oil which is placed on the skin to enhance circulation and promote healing of the tissues and organs underneath the skin. A castor oil pack applied over the uterus helps to promote cleansing and increase circulation to the uterine tissues, in order to improve function and health of the uterus.