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A Magical Route to Pregnancy Via IVF?

I'm a 41-year-old healthy woman. My husband and I have gone through two cycles of in vitro fertilization (IVF) and have not yet conceived. Is there anything I can do to help increase my chances for pregnancy? Vitamins? Exercise? Diet?

Answer (Published 8/9/2002)

Revised 3/29/2010

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As you probably know, success with IVF (in which egg and sperm are combined in a laboratory petri dish and the resulting embryo implanted in the woman’s uterus) increases with the number of cycles attempted, up to four cycles. According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) a woman under the age of 35 HAS a 25 percent chance of conceiving and having a baby via IVF as long as her male partner has no fertility problem. The odds are lower for women in their forties.

To optimize your chances for success I recommend consulting a traditional Chinese medicine specialist in fertility as well as trying mind-body techniques – guided imagery or hypnosis. You also could consider working with a shaman. This last may not sound scientific, but I believe that the spiritual and magical approaches of traditional healers can be very helpful in your situation. To find a shaman, you might look in Shaman’s Drum magazine and make inquiries in your area.

You also can take some practical steps below to help optimize your chances of conceiving:

  • If either you or your husband smokes, quit now. Smoking has been linked to altered Fallopian tube function and damaged eggs and can affect sperm mobility and sperm production.
  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol and marijuana, which can contribute to infertility in both sexes. Make sure you’re both eating a healthful diet rich in zinc, important for fertility in both sexes. The best vegetarian sources of zinc are legumes (dried beans, garbanzo beans, black-eyed peas, lentils, peas, soy products and whole grains).
  • Try to reduce the stress in your life.

Good luck!

Andrew Weil, M.D.

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