What can and can’t I do after IVF?
The period after an IVF treatment is extremely exciting and stressful at the same time for all patients. On the one hand, they are eagerly awaiting a small miracle to happen in their belly, while, subconsciously, a control flag keeps flashing saying “what if something goes wrong…” In an effort to do everything possible to increase their chances of getting pregnant and possibly not harm the potential fetus, they are looking for answers to various questions: Can I consume all the foods that I normally eat? Do I have to give up coffee too? And what about sex? We asked these and many other questions directly MUDr. Katarína Balasičová, PhD.
- Can I drink alcohol, coffee, or smoke cigarettes after IVF?
After in-vitro fertilization (IVF), every patient should behave as if she were pregnant. This means that alcohol, cigarettes or even drugs must be strictly eliminated. The negative effect of coffee on pregnancy has not yet been scientifically proven, but we recommend drinking not more than two cups a day. However, if it is not possible to immediately reduce your caffeine intake, try gradually switching to decaffeinated coffee.
- Are there any foods I have to avoid after IVF?
It is generally recommended to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Of course, if you have a confirmed pregnancy, you should avoid foods that are not recommended during pregnancy – e.g. certain blue cheeses, seafood, smoked meats, etc. If you do not yet know whether or not you are pregnant at all, no specific foods are “forbidden”. However, it is important to have a healthy diet and maintain a balanced intake of proteins, fats, sugars, consume a lot of vitamins, folic acid and definitely maintain a reasonable weight.
- Can I be sexually active after IVF?
We do not recommend sexual intercourse in some patients at the end of hormonal stimulation due to enlarged ovaries. However, if necessary, sexual intercourse must be gentle and soft, so as not to damage the ovaries. However, during the period of planned egg retrieval or embryo transfer, sexual activity should definitely be avoided. Therefore, we recommend sexual intercourse only after a certain period of time after the procedures are performed. And only as long as you feel physically fine and fit and you don’t feel any difficulties.
- Is spotting after IVF a common thing?
Spotting (light bleeding) may occur during the period of expected menstruation, or when the woman is to have sample collected for the test of HCG, the pregnancy hormone. Although bleeding is usually a sign that IVF has not been successful and menstruation occurs naturally, this may not always be the rule. Even if you become pregnant, spotting or light bleeding may occur. In any case, any bleeding in a pregnant woman should be consulted and assessed by a physician at the assisted reproduction center or by her gynecologist.
- Can I fly after IVF?
When flying, several factors to which the woman is exposed must be taken into account – body exposure to radiation, change in altitude or pressure fluctuations. After IVF, we recommend avoiding long flights in particular, as this can often lead to complications in pregnancy, which may very often even result in miscarriage. We also advise patients not to plan a vacation or business trip which requires a shorter flight after IVF. However, this is not such a problem in Europe, but unless it is necessary, you should postpone the flight for later, ideally for the second trimester.
- Can I visit sauna, swimming pools or spa after IVF?
During the periods of hormonal stimulation, we strongly recommend avoiding sauna and hot baths due to overheating of the body. On the contrary, swimming in the pool is not explicitly forbidden unless you suffer from frequent infections. However, you should certainly avoid swimming pools if you are shortly after egg retrieval or embryo transfer.
- Can I play active sports after IVF?
It should be noted that after hormonal stimulation, the ovaries are enlarged and fragile. We therefore definitely do not recommend increased physical stress in order to avoid mechanical damage to the ovaries. Thus, when it comes to sports, you should skip running, jumping, aerobic exercise or lifting heavy weights for a while. Also, watch out for sudden sharp changes in the direction of your movement. And if you happen to be considering a holiday by the sea or in the mountains, it is better to choose a more suitable time than the period of hormonal stimulation. Even a hike in the mountains is considered an activity causing physical stress that could do you harm right after IVF. However, if you just can’t give up some physical activity, gentle exercises such as yoga or light, easy walks will not hurt you.
- Can I do daily chores after IVF?
As in the case of sports, it is important not to get under excessive physical stress when doing chores. Therefore, take it really easy and do only the most necessary and lightest housework. Don’t forget to wear protective gloves.
- Can I go sunbathing or take indoor tanning after IVF?
It also applies that after IVF, direct sunlight as well as indoor tanning should be avoided. Typical sunbathing and lying on the beach is not recommended after hormonal stimulation or during pregnancy itself. There is a risk of overheating, dehydration, and some sensitive women are more prone to pigment spots. If you cannot avoid staying in the sun, we recommend light, breathable clothing, a hat, protective sunglasses as well as a sunscreen (cream) with UV filter. However, every patient in whom hormonal stimulation, egg retrieval and subsequent embryo transfer is planned is recommended not to plan a vacation at that time whether in a hot climate, by the sea, etc., but we do not recommend even a more “active” vacation with hiking or possibly another sports activity, either. Similarly, we do not recommend visiting tanning facilities after IVF.
- Can I dye my hair after IVF?
There is no clear answer, but we recommend that women avoid hair coloring, at least in the first trimester. It is sensible for women who take particular care of their appearance to have their hair dyed just before the IVF cycle itself, so that they do not have to deal with this dilemma in early stage of pregnancy.
- Can I be in contact with animals after IVF?
Pets that you are in daily contact with and that are monitored by a veterinarian are not dangerous to you. Naturally, we do not recommend petting or touching unknown animals. In any case, you do not have to restrict contact with your pets.
- Am I in danger after IVF, if I come in contact with someone who has smallpox?
A woman who has overcome smallpox as a child does not have to worry about the consequences. Her blood contains antibodies against smallpox. However, if you are aware that you did not overcome smallpox as a child, contact with an infected person should be avoided – both after artificial insemination and during pregnancy.