Memphis fertility specialist Dr. Amelia Bailey helps women and couples navigate the route to conception every day.
With the coming new year, we talked to Dr. Bailey about what resolutions an IVF patient might make to better their health in body and mind.
What healthy resolutions might you recommend to IVF patients?
Dr. Bailey: The things I recommend revolve around being healthier overall, so they apply for everyone trying to conceive. They’re even more important, though, for patients committing physical, emotional, and financial resources to go through IVF.
How does BMI affect a woman’s chances of IVF success?
Dr. Bailey: When we talk about an individual’s healthy weight, we talk about a patient’s body mass index (BMI), or their weight in relation to their height. We need to calculate that to know if a woman is underweight, on target, overweight, or obese.
For some patients, being underweight can be more difficult for fertility than being slightly overweight. If patients have a BMI of 40 or above, which is classified as morbidly obese, we recommend weight loss before attempting to get pregnant. Moms who are obese increase their risk of miscarriage, early delivery, babies that are dangerously overweight at delivery, and diabetes and high blood pressure during pregnancy as well as the need for a cesarean section. Babies born to mothers in this category also have a higher likelihood of being obese or having diabetes later in life. We strongly suggest patients lose enough weight to get to a BMI of 30 before trying to conceive in order to increase fertility and decrease miscarriage risk and encourage patients to ideally focus on exercise and diet to maintain a healthy BMI between 19 and 25.
Why should women modify exercises for stimulated ovaries?
Dr. Bailey: I want patients to continue the level of exercise that their body is used to when they started their IVF cycle. If you’re not exercising, then start with 10 minutes a day of walking. Then work up to 30 minutes of walking four days a week.
Once someone starts stimulation medication, though, their ovaries are getting larger, so we don’t recommend any jostling activities. Practice gentle exercises like yoga or Pilates andchange positions slowly. You can work the abdominal muscles, but if you feel any pain in the pelvis, you should immediately back off that exercise. A smooth, gliding elliptical is typically safe, too.
Dr. Bailey says that patients who like higher intensity workouts, like CrossFit or P90X, may need to modify them to reduce bouncing. With too much jostling or bouncing, stimulated ovaries can twist, which compromises blood supply to the ovaries. This can cause severe pain to the patient and may lead to emergency surgery and possibly loss of the ovaries.
If you would like more information about fertility treatment options, or preparing your body for IVF, contact us. Our Memphis fertility center specializes in optimizing outcomes and providing compassionate care for women.