Anyone prepping for IVF will tell you that they will do whatever it takes to give themselves the best chance possible. Being healthy is hugely important and making sure your body has the right vitamins and minerals is essential. We thought it would be a good idea to share what we have learnt and what we both take. We should point out that we are not affiliated to or paid by any company to promote their products. This is just our opinion based on the research we have done. These are products we feel are right for us, they may not be right for other people.
I am not really into supplements, vitamins and herbal remedies. I am really sceptical about a lot of this stuff so I wasn’t going to start taking anything without good reason. My sperm analysis came back pretty normal. I was on the borderline for abnormal forms but other than that everything was fine. It makes sense to me to do everything I can to ensure I can produce the best possible sample on the day so we went into research mode. After reading books on the subject by Zita West and attending a lecture given by Dr Marilyn Glenville it was clear that there is a lot of science and research that backs up the use of vitamins, minerals and even some herbs. After a lot of research I decided to take Fertility Support for Men from the Natural Health Practice. The reason I chose these is because they don’t contain anything other than the things you want. There are no caking agents or flavourings, you get the right dose of the important stuff. So what is in it and what does it do? Here is a quick break down:
- L-arginine – Supports sperm production
- Vitamin C – Increases motility and quality
- Vitamin E – Thought to increase the fertility of sperm
- L-carnitine – Increases sperm count and motility
- L-taurine – Increases motility
- CoQ10 – Increases motility
- Zinc – Essential in the sperm creation process
- Calcium – Gives sperm energy for fertilisation
- Magnesium – Helps blood flow to genitals
- Niacin – Helps regulate hormones and blood flow
- Pantothenic Acid – Increases motility
- Riboflavin – Increased energy
- Thiamine – Helps blood flow to genitals
- Vitamin B6 – Essential in creation of sex hormones
- Beta-carotene – Helps protect sperm from free radicals
- Iron – Helps blood flow
- Manganese – Helps normal sperm volume, count and formation
- Vitamin A – Helps normal sperm volume, count and formation
- Folacin – Increased count and improved sperm health
- Selenium – Improves sperm formation
- Chromium – Helps overal fertility
- Vitamin B12 – Essential for creating DNA and helps normal sperm volume, count and formation
- Vitamin D3 – Improves sperm viability
In addition to those I also take extra Vitamin C and Omega 3 which helps produce prostaglandins.
I also found that there was strong evidence that Maca Root was good for increasing sperm production and motility so I started taking 1500mg a day.
Finally I added Ginseng which has also been proven to increase sperm production and motility as well as helping to reduce stress.
The one thing they all have in common, apart from helping with fertility, is that they taste absolutely disgusting! I have tried taking them with different liquids including water, milk and tea but I have found the best way to get them down is with fruit juice.
As for my diet I have cut down on sugar and caffeine and I am trying my best to eat in a balanced and healthy way. I have started eating more nuts and fruit in an attempt to have healthy snacks. I still have tea and few biscuits, the odd takeaway and the occasional soft drink, I’m not perfect and I know that moderation is probably my best bet rather than a really strict lifestyle regimen!
There’s a lot more to read and research in terms of womens health with regards to fertility. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by all the do’s and don’t’s! As our infertility is now classed as “unexplained” I feel it’s important to do what I can do to give us the best chance as we prepare for IVF. Weight is a massive issue when it comes to IVF and having lost 12 stone through having a Gastric Bypass, I have to be even more mindful of nutrition and supplementation.
The bypass means I suffer from malabsorption of some vitamins, minerals and fatty acids. I have regular Vitamin B12 injections, take large dosages of Vitamin D and have to be on multivitamins for life.
As Tom mentioned, we read a lot of ZIta West’s and Dr Marilyn Glenville’s work about nutrition and fertility. We knew that we could improve our sperm and egg quality and wanted to make sure they are the best they can be before we started our IVF cycle.
Although a woman cannot change the quantity of eggs she has, she can make a difference to their quality. As you get older quality can diminish; I’m 37 this year so my fertility and egg quality will already be dropping.
After lots of reading and research, I decided on this programme of supplements in the weeks prior to down-regulation. As Tom said, this suits us, it’s not a recommendation and I’d always advise you to speak to your GP or fertility doctor before taking anything you’re not sure about.
- Fertility for Women – formulated by Dr Glenville and available from NHP
- Vitamin C Support
- Omega 3 Support
- Vitamin D – lacking in bypass patients
- Calcium Citrate – lacking in bypass patients
- CassanOVUM Boost – CassanOvum Boost contains Cassava Root Extract and many other natural extracts and powders that will work together to boost ovarian functions and therefore increase chances of conceiving. Borage seed oil, Dandelion, Evening Primrose Oil and Licorice will stimulate membrane secretion to increase cervical mucus and balance hormones. Ashwagandha aids in reducing possible auto-immune fertility issues. Maca and Chaste Berry (Vitex agnus-castus) both help to balance the hormones by nourishing and balancing the endocrine system. Tribulus may normalize ovulation in infertile women and may reduce ovarian cysts in women with PCOS. Black Cohosh Root aids in toning the uterine lining working together with False Unicorn to assist regulating the menstrual cycle through stimulating the ovaries.
- Royal Jelly – said to balance hormones and improve egg quality
I would recommend having a blood test to check your vitamin and mineral levels before you start any supplement plan & speaking to your GP. Zita and Marilyn do have clinics where you can have a consultation if you’re struggling to conceive.
I’ve also given up Caffeine (reluctantly!) and don’t drink alcohol or smoke. I try and eat plenty of lean protein, veg, fruit and a small amount of carbs.
Hope this is useful to anyone out there. We are gearing up for our lesson at Bourn Hall about all of the drugs Nic will have to take and we have a rough schedule of treatment so there will be more posts soon!
Thanks for reading,
Tom and Nic