Unpopular Opinion: IVF Superstitions are Nonsense – By Aideen McCanny (@ivfmumblings)

Controversial post alert: not everyone will agree with what I’m about to say (and I’m okay with that).

I’m by no means an expert on fertility (who is, really?), But I’ve been at this a long time – 5 years in fact. I’ve had 6 failed transfers and I’m just about to embark on my 7th FET (frozen embryo transfer), so I feel I can express my opinion freely on this topic.

Back in those early days when IVF was new and fluffy and I was filled with positivity, I was willing to try it all. The new-fangled supplements, reflexology, acupuncture, fluffy socks, no alcohol… The list goes on. I was happy to do anything if it even gave me the slightest chance of success.

But here’s the thing… does any of this really matter?! After 6 failed cycles, I think not.

I’ve seen post after post on Instagram of endless lists of things you “should and shouldn’t do” before, during and after an IVF cycle. So do these actually work or are we just wasting our time, money and energy on so called remedies? I’ve rounded up a few of the most common ones…

PINEAPPLE CORE:

Following transfer, many eat the core of a pineapple, due to its magical implantation properties. Why so? Pineapple contains bromelain, an enzyme which helps us break down and digest our food. When taken on an empty stomach, bromelain can act as a blood thinner and an anti-inflammatory, and all of this may help with embryo implantation (note the word may – there’s actually no scientific evidence to support this). I mentioned this popular ritual to my doctor husband and he lol’d in my face. His words: “Pineapple core is pure fibre so you’ll just poop itstraight out”. Plus, I don’t like pineapple much, let alone the core, so it’s a thumbs down from me. If you fall into the no pineapple camp too, try kiwi, ginger, asparagus or yoghurt, all of which contain the magical bromelain, too.

MCDONALDS FRIES:

Another post-transfer tradition, my Instafeed is awash with McDonald’s fries boxes with PUPO (pregnant until proven otherwise) captions. I’m convinced McDonald’s started this rumour themselves! However, Chinese whispers are somewhat at play here. The history behind it is that the fries were to be consumed post egg-collection (rather than transfer) as the high sodium content supposedly helps with OHSS. Surely, the best thing we can do for our bodies at this stage is to fill it with nutritious foods, not fries?!

FLUFFY SOCKS:

I overheard someone at a fertility event talking about this notion recently. Following her transfer, she mentioned putting on her fluffy socks and her consultant rolled his eyes and said: “If that was the case, Eskimos wouldn’t get pregnant.” Apparently, warm feet = warm uterus. Ah, my cold uterus is to blame for my infertility then!

NO ALCOHOL:

This is a very personal choice. For me, I have no problem with having the odd glass of wine both pre and post transfer. Many women who are lucky enough to fall pregnant naturally (oh how I envy you) all admit to drinking up until they found out they were pregnant. My belief is that drinking a little will chill me the f**k out during what is one helluva stressful time.

NO NAIL POLISH:

Yes, really! I read a post on Instagram from a girl who was nearly having a panic attack because she painted her nails during the 2ww (two week wait) and she received a barrage of messages belittling her decision. Folks, nail polish won’t stop your embryo implanting.

As I mentioned, I’m by no means a fertility expert, but it’s so disheartening to see people tearing themselves apart about what they should and shouldn’t do. Absolutely, do what you need to do to get yourself through a cycle but my advice is to take it all with a pinch of salt. If you forgot to wear a t-shirtemblazoned with a positive slogan, or your fluffy pineapple socks remained at home in a drawer during your transfer and you don’t see that second line on a pregnancy test, it isn’t because you did this or didn’t do that.

So what will work? Luck, science and a good quality embryo.

Give yourself a break. IVF is hard. Blaming yourself is even harder.

You can keep up to date with Aideen’s journey by following her Instagram here.

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