How to Prepare for IVF

At the recent Fertility Show Africa 2022, Dr Mandy Rodrigues, resident clinical psychologist at Medfem Fertility Clinic, spoke about one of the most frequently asked questions from couples facing infertility treatment: how to prepare for IVF?

Dr Rodrigues has worked in the field of infertility for the past 25 years and a large part of her work focusses on the need for a multidisciplinary approach to infertility, specifically including stress management. She is an expert in this field and has presented and published various books and articles on the subject. This article summarises her advice on the best way to prepare for IVF.

One of the most common questions from couples undergoing fertility treatment is “how to prepare for IVF?”

IVF is a safe and effective treatment for many common fertility problems. It is also a medical procedure that is expensive in costs, in time, and in physical and emotional terms. It may also be necessary to undergo more than one cycle of IVF to achieve a pregnancy.

As a result, undergoing IVF and other fertility treatments are often likened to emotional rollercoaster rides, with extreme highs and lows as couples go through the treatment ups and downs.

For example, at the beginning of the process, there is anticipatory anxiety: the fear of the unknown. During the treatment process, there is a great emotional stress as couples question their decisions and face their doubts. Where the treatment is successful, there is great joy and excitement and also much trepidation that the pregnancy could be lost. And where the result is not successful, a cycle of intense grief is necessarily followed by returning to the beginning of the process, this time deciding to continue fertility treatment or not.

For all these reasons, couples want to be as well-prepared for their IVF treatment as possible, so that they have the greatest possible chance of conceiving during the cycle. At Medfem Fertility Clinic, our aim is also to improve time to pregnancy, so we prescribe the preparations as detailed below to our patients before any fertility treatment is provided.

The great news is that these preparations are not just recommended for IVF, but for any fertility treatment, and even for those couples still trying to conceive before treatment is considered.

IVF Preparations

1. Get informed, look for predictability, make plans and have other goals
2. Take care of the basics for good health
3. Manage stress
4. Actively seek professional support and counselling
5. Choose the right SASREG accredited clinic
Each one is discussed in more detail below.

1. Get informed, look for predictability, make plans and have other goals

To navigate the emotional rollercoaster of IVF treatment, it is important to have the right information, make the process as predictable as possible, and to have a plan as a couple ahead of time: agreeing on the way forward for right now, and when to take the next decision.

More predictability can be achieved by making sure that as a couple, you understand exactly what fertility challenge you are facing, what the possible treatment options are and what these different treatment options entail.

This might initially include doing some research and deciding to take the next step to see a fertility specialist, and planning to take the next decision once there is an expert diagnosis.
Speaking to qualified and experienced fertility specialists who will also assist you to understand the financial implications, as well as with counsellors who can provide psychological support, can provide much of the information you will need to feel that you are making good decisions, that you can prepare for what lies ahead, and that you can plan for different outcomes.

It can often seem that infertility infiltrates and overshadows every aspect of your life: what you eat and how much you drink, where you go, which friends you see, and how you cope with work stress. Even so, it is important to realise that it is possible for life to continue with some normality even as you go through the IVF treatment. Make plans in other areas of life and have other goals beyond starting a family to keep balance and perspective during the process.

When you have a goal and a plan, you can achieve peace of mind during your treatment. Peace of mind comes from managing your journey.

This means that even if your fertility treatment result is not positive, you can emerge from the process with peace of mind, because you have a plan for going forward. For example, you might decide to have the IVF treatment, accepting that it may not be successful. Should this be the case, you might plan to give it three months or a year before maybe considering trying another cycle of IVF treatment, or perhaps trying a different treatment.

2. Take care of the basics for good health

For a pregnancy, healthy eggs and healthy sperm are required. The healthier a couple is, the higher the possibility of a pregnancy.

Where fertility patients have health problems, such as weight issues, raised insulin levels or cholesterol problems, the chances of conceiving and of a healthy pregnancy are reduced. Similarly, stress can reduce the chances of a pregnancy. These issues need to be addressed to boost the chances of a successful IVF cycle.

Taking good care of the basics for health is important for both the male and female partners in a couple. Studies about the effects on fertility of poor lifestyle choices and diseases, such as Type II diabetes or raised insulin, show a definite negative impact on sperm, eggs and the chances of conception. In addition, evidence suggests that the lifestyle choices of the parents can also have a transgenerational impact on the baby conceived.

The first aspect to manage is poor lifestyle choices, such as drinking alcohol, having excessive amounts of coffee or smoking. It is also important to manage stress well and to get moderate exercise.

Alcohol consumption should be minimal, as it contains a lot of carbohydrates which are a no-no for fertility patients. Tobacco and nicotine are known to reduce pregnancy rates in IVF and has a negative effect on blood vessels. Recreational drugs should also be avoided. For example, marijuana reduces the motility of the sperm. Coffee consumption should be no more than a moderate 1 to 2 cups per day, as drinking more than five cups can decrease fertility.

Exercise such as walking will reduce your BMI (Body Mass Index), lower your insulin levels and boost your health.

The patient’s diet is also very important, and this includes nutrient intake. The right diet for each patient will depend on the unique health challenges to be addressed. For example, among those who don’t have insulin problems or any other health issues, the Mediterranean diet tends to promote fertility. Patients with PCOS or raised insulin levels, for example, would perhaps do better with the Banting diet or other low glycaemic diets.

Many people can also improve their health by taking the right nutrients supplements, as well as alternative medicine that doesn’t created undue stress. At Medfem Fertility Clinic we recommend Staminogro because it supplies adequate active folic acid, antioxidants, natural growth hormone boosters, micro and macro nutrients and essential vitamins.

What is important is to find a healthy approach to eating and exercising that can become a lifestyle without creating more stress.

3. Manage stress

Managing the stress of daily life, as well as the stress of undergoing medical treatments, is crucial.

In our modern world, we have information overload, we have more educational opportunities and we live in a highly competitive society with double income families, professional careers, commuting and stressful schedules. Most people are under “time urgency” stress all the time, and this kind of chronic, unrelenting stress can affect health and pregnancy rates. In fact, as many as 40% of couples who seek assistance at a fertility clinic are already stressed, anxious and depressed.

In addition, everyone is stressed when going through IVF or other fertility treatments. This stress should also be managed professionally, in line with the current international trends of including counselling and psychological support in fertility treatments.

The impact of stress on IVF success rates is particularly evident in those patients who display A-type personality time-urgent behaviour: impatient, perfectionist behaviour that is generally linked to recurrent heart attacks.

In a local study, this type of personality was later also linked to fertility challenges. The women in the study were perfectionists – not in the sense of having OCD or being overly neat or organised – but in terms of not liking being out of control, being black-or-white or all-or-nothing thinkers, and having high expectations of themselves and high expectations of others.

These patients in study were all put through a stress management course. The number of stress related symptoms they displayed were significantly reduced. In addition, after the stress management course, the IVF success rate of the group increased from an average of 38% per cycle to 67%!

A good starting point is to determine if you or your partner has time urgency perfectionism stress or TUPS. You can do this free of charge at

If you are suffering from time urgency perfectionism stress, you can download the book Faster, Better, Sicker: Time Urgency Perfectionism Stress and Your Health free at You can also follow the TUPS management program online or at Medfem Fertility Clinic. The TUPS courses are very solution-driven and practical, and the techniques implemented are simple, easy to master, and easy to apply. To find out more, please visit or

4. Actively seek professional support and counselling

Globally, there is a growing recognition of the crucial importance of counselling in successful IVF and other fertility treatments.

During COVID, the European Fertility Society rolled out the accreditation of fertility clinics that include the psychological support of patients. This trend has been brought to South Africa through SASREG (South African Society for Reproductive Medicine and Gynaecological Endoscopy).

The SASREG accreditation of fertility clinics has always included criteria such as, for example, the medical facilities, the qualifications of the specialists and staff, the scientific procedures, and the quality of the labs, equipment and technology. What is now also included are the psychological components, such as qualified therapy, support groups and a single point of contact throughout the treatment.

This is in response to the reality that 40% of fertility patients are already stressed by the time they visit a fertility clinic: they have post-traumatic stress, they have anxiety, they have depression. Now, thankfully, clinics are helping patients cope with this stress, with the aim of improving pregnancy rates and time to pregnancy.

This is because when patients feel better about themselves, and feel more empowered, they have a quicker time to pregnancy.

Ensuring you choose the right clinic will go a long way to ensuring you receiving holistic treatment.

5. Choose the right SASREG accredited clinic

Achieving high IVF success rates requires a multidisciplinary team: from the fertility experts to the nurses and support staff, and from the scientists in the lab to the psychologists and counsellors that provide the crucial emotional support.

In South Africa, the right clinic firstly means a SASREG accredited clinic.

At a SASREG clinic, you will not only find facilities and medical expertise that meet global standards, but also the psychological support that is now widely recognised as a crucial component of fertility treatment.

At Medfem Fertility Clinic in Sandton, Johannesburg you can meet some of South Africa’s leading IVF specialists.

Medfem’s team of accredited reproductive medicine specialists have over 100 years of collective experience and are nationally and internationally recognised as pioneers and innovators in the field of fertility treatment, including Dr Johan van Schouwenburg who was involved in the first successful IVF treatment carried out in South Africa in 1983.

Over the last 30 years, our team has helped bring more than 30,000 babies into the world at our accredited clinic that offers advanced facilities; technologies on par with the latest medical advancements and a range of fertility treatments to achieve great success rates.

In addition, you want to choose a fertility clinic with the right fit. Many fertility patients will choose a clinic where they are treated in a more holistic way, and with compassion and respect.

Our fertility specialists at Medfem Fertility Clinic implement individualised IVF stimulation protocols, which are customised to each patient according to a multitude of factors, such as infertility diagnosis, age, weight/height, prior cycle outcome and prior reproductive history. In addition, Medfem Fertility Clinic offers the largest staff-to-patient ratio of any fertility clinic in South Africa, ensuring you receive the best care possible.

At Medfem Fertility Clinic, we believe in helping you reach your family dream through:

* World-Class Fertility for Everyone – we believe in making world-class fertility treatments such as IVF available for everyone

* A Positive Fertility Journey – It is our joy and commitment to give you a positive outcome to your fertility journey

* Delivered With Empathy & Caring – So you may have a fond memory, of a feeling of empathy, caring and being part of the Medfem family

If you would like to meet one of our fertility specialists at Medfem Fertility Clinic, simply click here to book an initial consultation or contact us telephonically on +27 (11) 463 2244.

Our Fertility Specialists can also meet with you during a virtual consultation via Zoom or Skype. Click here to book a virtual consultation now.

We look forward to meeting you at Medfem Fertility Clinic!

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