In her fertility journey, Natalist CEO Halle Tecco has become an unwilling expert in IVF. She’s had four egg retrievals (plus two canceled rounds) and nine embryo transfers (and counting). She's the proud mom of one IVF miracle and uses this vast experience to help others on their journey to motherhood.
By Halle Tecco
If you’re starting the IVF journey, you may be feeling scared, anxious, hopeful, excited. And that’s normal! This is a huge undertaking—physically, emotionally, and financially. If you’re like me, you are preparing meticulously. There are calendars, journals, maybe even Google spreadsheets (guilty).
In my fertility journey, I’ve become an unwilling expert in IVF. I’ve had four egg retrievals (plus two canceled rounds) and nine embryo transfers (and counting). I am the proud mom of one IVF miracle and use this experience to help others on their journey to motherhood.
Two of the questions I often hear are how I prepared and what I purchased for IVF. So, I put together this list of my must-haves.
Supplements for egg and sperm health
In addition to my daily prenatal, I bought a number of supplements (for me and my husband!) as advised by my doctor.
In a 2020 systematic review and meta-analysis of 46 trials with 6,312 women, ten adjuvant treatments for poor ovarian response in IVF were evaluated. Compared with controls, CoQ10 treatments resulted in a “significantly higher chance” of clinical pregnancy. Additionally, CoQ10 supplementation led to the lowest cancelation rates for IVF cycles. The authors conclude that, for women with poor ovarian response, controlled ovarian stimulation protocols including CoQ10 showed better clinical outcomes.
2. MTHF Folate
Women undergoing assisted reproduction, like IVF and IUI, have unique needs when it comes to nutrition and fertility. In 2019, A Harvard study found that women who took in more than 800 micrograms of supplemental folate while undergoing fertility treatment, among other dietary changes, had an increased probability of live birth.
Other studies have found similar results: One study evaluating 232 women undergoing assisted reproduction found that live birth rates were 20% higher among women who took the most folate (more than 800 mcg/day) compared to women who took less than 400 mcg/day. Additionally, higher supplemental folate intake was associated with higher fertilization rates and lower cycle failure rates before embryo transfer in this study.
Sperm is half the equation, so it’s important that men optimize their health during IVF as well. Antioxidants have been shown to improve live birth rate for couples undergoing fertility treatment. A 2019 Cochrane systematic review concluded that antioxidant supplementation in subfertile men improves live birth, clinical pregnancy rate, and sperm DNA fragmentation.
Feel-good items for all those doctors appointments
If you don’t yet know Wanda (what we affectionately call the ultrasound wand), you will. You will also get to know the nurse coordinator, the front desk team, and your REI. For me, I get super bloated throughout IVF stims and need comfortable clothes with no harsh waistbands.
4. Fuzzy socks
These are a must! You will spend lots of time in stirrups. I got a bulk pair from Costco that have carried me through the years. Check out the Cozy Warrior Socks—they are a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit, and proceeds from the socks go to gifting socks to women who are struggling to conceive.
5. Warrior gear
The right products for IVF shots
IVF shots are no joke. I used to be afraid of shots (ha!) until I realized there’s a way to make them easier. First off, I never do my own shots. My husband is my shot-giver, and he’s gotten really good at becoming my nurse. Second, we make it a ritual. We do the shots at night, after I’ve taken a hot bath and gotten in my jammies. I use an ice pack to numb the area, and it’s over in a cinch! I always have a piece of chocolate as a treat, and we save a good show to watch right after (my son was created from a round where we watched Schitt’s Creek every night).
6. Ice pack
To me, this is a must. Numbing makes the shots barely noticeable. At first, I used the Buzzy Bee, which I first saw on Shark Tank. It’s an ice pack with vibration. But, I think the ice pack is the most important part, and you can find them anywhere for under $5.
7. Self-care distraction
For me, this is coloring books, gardening, reading, and baking. Find something that brings you calmness and peace.
8. Pregnancy tests….in bulk!
Some clinics ask that you wait for a pregnancy blood test (β-hCG, or “beta”) to test for pregnancy instead of taking an at-home pregnancy test. I personally have never been able to wait the two weeks and have done home tests sooner, starting five or six days after the transfer.
What I used for post-retrieval recovery
I have never had worse constipation than after an egg retrieval. I feel like no one warned me about this part of IVF! During fertility treatments like IVF, you’re given hormones as well as sedatives. Many believe that progesterone can cause constipation by altering the regulation of g-proteins. It’s also hypothesized that sedatives can have certain effects on the body, including constipation.
Learn more about constipation during fertility treatments.
10. Heating pad
I got my heating pad as a gift from a friend, and it has been a life saver! Towards the end of stims, and definitely after the retrieval, you may feel bloating and cramps. Resting under a heating pad helps me relax and feel better.
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