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IVF Dos and Don’ts: Your Guide to Diet, Exercise, Sex & More

July 8th, 2022 | 12 min. read

By Jocelyn Crespo, RN

Are you ready?! The time is finally here to start your IVF journey and the path to becoming a parent. While it is very exciting, all the planning, appointments, injections and medications can feel pretty overwhelming. It's only natural to want to do everything just right in the hopes of giving yourself the best shot at IVF success! 

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Get the FAQs About Life During IVF 

Beyond making sure your IVF cycle goes as smoothly as possible, you probably have some lifestyle questions. Okay, maybe a lot of lifestyle questions. If you're wondering about whether you can safely exercise, what you can eat and drink or if you can have sex, trust me when I say, “You are not alone.”

My name is Jocelyn, and I’m a fertility nurse here at Illume Fertility, working out of our Danbury office. After 15+ years in the fertility field, I have truly heard it all! In fact, I get questions like these daily.

That’s why I’m here to answer your life during IVF questions and debunk any myths you might have heard about going through the IVF treatment process. My goal? To make it all as simple as possible so you can focus on powering through treatment like the warrior you are! Let's dive in and answer some common questions.

Can I have sex during an IVF cycle?

Yes! It is completely safe to have sex during ovarian stimulation. However, there may come a point during your IVF cycle that it becomes uncomfortable to have sex (not to mention - you may just not be "in the mood" right now). 

Your ovaries are expanding and becoming larger, so that can make it uncomfortable at times. If that is the case, then refrain from intercourse. Bottom line? Listen to your body. If you feel okay, go for it! 

We do ask that after your embryo transfer, you refrain from sex until after your official pregnancy test. Your nurse will give you new instructions based on your pregnancy test results.

Related: What to Expect at Your Embryo Transfer: A Patient's Perspective

Is there anything I can do to ensure IVF success?

The answer to this question is a bit complex, so let's break it down together.

While you can't do anything to 100% guarantee your IVF cycle will be successful, there is a lot you can do to optimize your health and give you the best chance of achieving your goal: a healthy pregnancy and baby.

Let's run through a few:

Get an honest look at fertility treatment stats:

What Are My Chances of Success?

Can I get vaccinated for COVID-19 during IVF?

Yes! Here at Illume Fertility, we strongly recommend vaccination for all eligible individuals, regardless of where they are in the treatment process. 

All of the leading women's health organizations recommend vaccination and available data confirms the safety of vaccination against COVID-19. There is strong evidence behind this advice, which we encourage you to explore:

Getting vaccinated not only protects you but offers a layer of protection to your baby should you become pregnant. Find out more about COVID-19, fertility and pregnancy

Still feeling wary or have lingering questions about fertility and COVID-19? Ask your doctor! Our team is always happy to offer evidence-based answers you can trust. 

Is it safe to get the flu shot during IVF?

Another yes! Getting vaccinated yearly against the flu helps protect you and your future baby from serious complications from the flu, birth defects, and other health issues. Flu seasons vary in their timing from season to season, but the CDC recommends getting vaccinated by the end of October, if possible. This timing helps protect you before flu activity begins to increase.

Can I exercise during IVF? What is safe and what’s not?

Exercise is almost always a good thing! It improves your overall physical health, but it does a lot for your mental wellbeing too. I am a huge advocate for exercise.

Movement such as walking, elliptical training and light weight exercises are all safe. Yoga is also great. We even offer a research-backed, free weekly yoga class here at Illume Fertility called Fertile Yoga. A lot of our patients take this class, so attending also gives you a chance to meet other patients going through the same experience. 

We encourage you to try a Fertile Yoga class or one of our other free community events!

Note: One form of exercise that we tell all patients to refrain from during IVF stimulation is CrossFit or high-intensity interval training (HIIT). Here's why: your ovaries are growing and becoming larger. When that happens, it can increase your risk of ovarian torsion (when the ovary twists on itself, causing pain).

Because CrossFit or high-intensity interval training can increase your chance of ovarian torsion, we ask you to refrain from these types of exercise during the stimulation phase of your IVF cycle. We promise we'll let you get back to that sort of routine when the time is right, but we always want you to be safe.

Related: IVF Side Effects at Each Stage of Treatment

A fertility nurse explains IVF meds:

Should I try to lose weight during an IVF cycle?

While exercising throughout your fertility journey is beneficial, putting pressure on yourself to drop pounds during an IVF cycle is discouraged. Why? Your body is already under a lot of stress and adapting to fluctuating hormone levels, so adding more stress by decreasing your calorie intake and/or drastically increasing your exercise regimen to try and lose weight can negatively affect your outcome. 

We do, however, encourage you to focus on your health during the preconception period (AKA before you enter a treatment cycle), and have a free 90-Day Preconception Checklist you can download to keep you on track!

To learn more about weight and fertility, read this article by our Nurse Practitioner Monica Moore.

Is there a specific IVF diet I should follow?

A lot of patients ask about diet. Sometimes patients will tell me: “I'm not eating any sugar!” or “I stopped drinking coffee or tea.” But you don't have to stop either of those!

The keyword is moderation. Starting to make healthy choices now will follow you through pregnancy. A large cup of coffee a day is fine. If you like to have two cups a day, have a small cup in the morning and another small cup mid-afternoon.

Tea is generally considered safe as well, though there are some herbal teas to stay away from! Always reach out to your Care Team with any follow-up questions or concerns. 

As for having dessert or a slice of pizza, go for it! Have a cookie or some fruit for dessert after dinner. Have that slice of pizza and simply add a large salad to the meal. When it comes to food, moderation and balance are the keys to sustainable success.

Want the full scoop from a fertility nutritionist?

Get Your Fertility-Boosting Nutrition Plan

Can I drink alcohol during fertility treatment?

This answer is a bit more complex. There are many different answers out there, from “not a drop while attempting pregnancy” to “it is completely okay.”

However, you should NOT drink after an embryo transfer or after an IUI procedure. Why? Well, because you could be pregnant! 

During the IVF stimulation phase, however, you can certainly have a glass of wine. I would advise you to limit your drinking to one glass (not two!) and not drink alcohol daily.

Can I travel during IVF?

Certain travel is okay when going forward with IVF! However, it’s important that you work with your fertility nurse when planning out your IVF cycle alongside a trip. A short weekend getaway can most likely be managed during your IVF cycle. However, we do discourage long trips - and typically, being away for four days or more is not allowed due to frequent monitoring and other factors. 

Zika virus and COVID-19 are potential concerns, depending on where you plan to travel. Refer to the CDC for the latest information on the Zika virus, and consider COVID-19 vaccination and practice safety measures to lower your risk of infection. 

The bottom line? If you’re planning a trip and embarking on an IVF cycle soon, always talk with your fertility nurse. We are always happy to discuss potential concerns and options, like using a birth control pill to manipulate your cycle a bit so you don't have any scheduling setbacks. That way, you can still sit on that beach with a cool drink and not worry about your cycle!

Can I color my hair and get my nails done?

Spa day = me time. Yes! Do it. Have fun and relax. You deserve it!

The great news? During your IVF stimulation phase, you can color your hair and get your nails done safely.

Our advice: Make sure you are in a well-ventilated spot since you may be more sensitive to fumes. Once pregnant, if coloring your hair, make sure to tell your hairdresser to avoid direct contact with your scalp. 

Can I get a massage during IVF?

Yes, you can definitely get a massage! However, you should avoid deep tissue massage during your IVF stimulation phase, due to ovary enlargement. But massage is good for you - it will reduce stress and increase circulation, so we're all for it!

Another relaxing option? Fertility acupuncture! (Pssst...we offer laser and traditional acupuncture here at Illume Fertility, which has proven benefits during IVF!)

A fertility nurse explains:

How Long Does IVF Take?

My Best Advice? Keep Living Your Life!

I'm hoping you found these answers about life during IVF helpful! In short, you can do pretty much everything you were doing prior to IVF, as long as you do everything safely and in moderation. Our goal here is to make your day-to-day life during IVF more manageable and less filled with questions.

One of my biggest tips? Be careful when looking to the internet for advice. Whatever you read or have questions about, make sure to check with a member of our team to get the most accurate answers. We’re here to help!

By keeping an open dialogue with your Care Team, trusting our guidance, and practicing moderation, your life will stay out of the way of IVF. At the end of the day, we all want you to be happy and successful.

Good luck in your IVF cycle! We're all rooting for you.

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Jocelyn Crespo, RN

Jocelyn Crespo, RN is the Associate Director of Nursing at Illume Fertility. She joined the Illume team in 2007 and loves connecting with her patients and trying to make each individual's fertility journey as smooth and stress-free as possible.

More Fertility Resources