Lifestyle and IVF: Exercise, Diet, Alcohol…

Posted on 31 January 2019

IVF can be more of a marathon than a sprint. Here are some tips to help you survive the journey


Continuing your normal exercise routine during IVF treatment is not only ok but it can be really helpful – both to help you deal with the physical symptoms and emotional stress of treatment.

Around the time of your egg collections, multiple ovarian follicles have come to maturity and your ovaries are relatively swollen in size. You should avoid possible trauma to your ovaries. While gentle gym exercise is still ok, contact sports should be avoided.

When you get a positive pregnancy test, it’s not uncommon to want to wrap yourself in cotton wool and that’s fine. But if you find you want to continue normal intensity exercise during this time that is totally ok and won’t increase your chance of having a miscarriage.


A healthy diet rich in plant proteins, grains, fresh fruit and vegetables, fish and non-saturated fats is the best thing for fertility both for men and women. Avoidance of sugars and minimisation of caffeine to the equivalent of 1-2 espresso coffees per day may also improve your chance of getting pregnant. Sustaining a normal body weight is helpful too, with BMIs either too high or too low associated with worse fertility outcomes.  With all that in mind, you don’t have to be a martyr either. Satisfying the occasional craving can be good for the soul. One important factor in reaching IVF success is maintaining your mental resilience to “stay in the game”. Many couples who ultimately conceive through IVF so as a result of several treatment attempts. My best advice is stay healthy overall but avoid extreme diets that are not sustainable.  


In our society, alcohol is present at so many events. Many of us enjoy a glass of wine or two pseudo regularly, which in the case of red wine (full of antioxidants) can actually be good for you.  We know extreme alcohol use is bad for sperm. We also know that drinking in pregnancy can cause fetal alcohol syndrome. One options when trying to conceive is to start the tee-totalling early, which is fine if it suits you. Another option is to practice the rhythm method, but for alcohol, enjoying alcohol in moderation prior to ovulation, then avoiding it until the outcome of your cycle is known (and continuing to avoid it in pregnancy).

In our savvy society, avoiding alcohol in public can be an unintended tip off that you’re trying to conceive or might be pregnant. In this scenario, carrying a glass of wine as a prop and sneakily swapping glasses with your partner can provide a theatrical get around.


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