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Can IVF Superstitions Improve Your Odds?

Will these IVF superstitions lead to a positive outcome?

IVF superstitions
Actual lucky IVF socks worn by one of our patients

Fertility treatment, especially in vitro fertilization, has plenty of research and science to back up how we practice it. But, even in the most perfect circumstances, fertility treatment doesn’t always work. Failed cycles sometimes just can’t be explained. Everything looked perfect, the embryo’s genetics came back normal, you took your trigger shot at the right time, but still that embryo didn’t stick. This is when you feel like it’s time to call in the supernatural to give your next cycle a boost. Just do a quick social media survey, and you will find that anecdotal evidence of IVF superstitions, from eating French fries to a lucky pair of socks, will help lead to a successful cycle.

Some IVF superstitions may actually have some scientific backup. Many, though, are really just speculation that may lead to a positive outcome by chance when used during fertility treatment. When it works, you swear it’s because those socks kept your feet warm or the fries were the right kind of salty. Below, we break down some of the more common IVF superstitions.

French fries after egg retrieval and embryo transfer

Eating salty foods, like French fries, immediately after an egg retrieval does have some scientific backing in relation to ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS). Fertility doctors do recommend a high sodium diet for a few days after your egg retrieval to help draw the extra fluid from the ovaries post stimulation. However, this is not specific to just French fries. Any high sodium food will do the trick, such as olives, salty popcorn, coconut water, feta cheese and prosciutto (hello, cheese board!). These may be better for you than something fried. As for French fries post embryo transfer, there really isn’t any reason for salty food then, but some patients carry over the superstition to this stage of their IVF cycle.

Pineapple cores

Eating pineapples, especially the core, before an embryo transfer has long been an IVF superstition. This is because pineapple contains bromelain, an enzyme found in the fruit, that is thought to have anti-inflammatory and blood-thinning properties which may help embryo implantation. Unfortunately, there’s no good scientific study that tells us bromelain can help with implantation. But, pineapples are delicious and eating more of them can’t hurt!

Pomegranate juice

Drinking pomegranate juice around the time of your embryo transfer is another common IVF superstition. However, this one does have some science to back it up.  Pomegranate juice contains good antioxidants, mainly polyphenols, that can possibly have a positive effect on reducing free radicals in the body and protecting eggs and sperm, especially as we age. However, if you want to increase antioxidants in your body to help with egg and sperm quality, focus more on whole fruits, vegetables, and nuts since pomegranate juice can be high in sugar. Also, make sure you are taking a prenatal supplement that contains Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and Coenzyme Q10 (stop taking once you get pregnant), all of which can help build up antioxidant fighting power in your body.

Warm feet during your embryo transfer

Many people believe that keeping your feet warm during the embryo transfer is beneficial. This IVF superstition actually comes from traditional Chinese medicine which believes that warm feet equate to a warm uterus, which, by their reasoning, is good for fertility. The thinking is that if your body has to send blood flow to your toes to keep your feet warm, it is redirecting needed blood away from the uterus and embryo. There isn’t much science to back this superstition up. However, bring those lucky transfer socks anyway. 

The bottom line on IVF superstitions

While all these superstitions may or may not have some sort of scientific support, none of them have been studied enough to show they are truly effective at helping you conceive a baby. But, what we do know is that none of these practices will harm you. The bottom line that you should remember is that success with fertility treatment and IVF largely depends on your underlying medical factors and a treatment plan specific to you. Taking care of your body, exercising, eating right, avoiding environmental toxins, and taking proven supplements are your best way to optimize your natural fertility.

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