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Getting fit for treatment

Getting fit for treatment involves preparing yourself and your partner both physically and mentally for the treatment ahead.

This is a difficult journey. It can be stressful without the right support and advice.

The information here is a guide that may help provide some of that support and answer some of your questions.

  • Diet

    It is important to eat healthily and maintain a healthy weight for your height (BMI 20-25kg/m2).

    Not sure what a healthy weight for your height would be? Use this calculator to find out.

    Calculate How Much Weight You Need To Lose

    A well balanced diet containing fresh fruit and vegetables is important to obtain necessary vitamins and minerals.

    It is recommended that you eat at least five servings of fresh fruit and vegetables per day and try to eat foods from each of the five food groups listed below:

    • Fruit
    • Vegetables
    • Proteins (chicken, oily fish & dried beans)
    • Grains (bread, cereals, rice, pasta etc)
    • Dairy foods which contain calcium
  • Folic acid supplement

    The Department of Health has advised that all women who are trying to conceive should take a folic acid supplement on a daily basis and that this should continue until the 12th week of pregnancy.

    What is a folic acid supplement?

    It is an artificial form of the natural B vitamin, Folate.

    Folate is found in small amounts in many foods. Good sources include broccoli, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, peas, chickpeas and brown rice. Other useful sources include fortified breakfast cereals, some bread and some fruit (such as oranges and bananas).


    It is suggested that by taking a folic acid supplement prior to and in the first trimester of pregnancy the incidence of neural tube defects in babies is significantly reduced. Neural tube defects are abnormalities that occur during the development of the nervous system. They include Spina Bifida and may be of such seriousness that the baby may not survive.


    For women deemed to be at ‘low risk’ tof having a baby with a neural tube defect, the Department of Health recommends a dose of Folic acid of 400 micrograms daily.

    For women deemed to be at ‘high risk’ the recommended daily dosage is 5mg.

    Couples are at high risk of conceiving a child with a neural tube defect if:

    • either partner has a neural tube defect, they have had a previous pregnancy affected by a neural tube defect, or they have a family history of a neural tube defect.
    • the woman is taking anti–epileptic drugs or has coeliac disease, diabetes, or thalassaemia trait.
    • the woman is obese (defined bybody mass index).

    All other people have a normal risk of conceiving a child with a neural tube defect.

    Women with thalassaemia trait should continue taking folic acid 5 mg daily until the birth of the baby.

    Folic Acid tablets are available for purchase without prescription at pharmacies, health food stores and in larger supermarkets. However, they may also be obtained by prescription from your GP.

  • Lifestyle

    Smoking reduces the chances of both natural conception and the success rates of IVF.

    If you need help to stop either consult your GP or call the NHS Stop Smoking helpline on 0800 0224 332.

    You should cut down or eliminate alcohol and caffeine in your diet.

  • Stress management

    While we cannot completely remove the stress from fertility treatment there are some things you can try to help to reduce stress levels:

    • Talk to each other, try and share your feelings
    • Make use of the counselling services that are available
    • Try not to over work yourself and add to the stress that you are already experiencing
    • Take regular breaks and try to leave at least a half hour for meals
    • Take regular exercise at least three times per week
    • Implement relaxation techniques
    • Get sufficient sleep each night, use relaxation techniques before going to bed
    • Eat a healthy balanced diet and reduce your caffeine intake
    • Set aside a time each week for both of you to do something fun
  • Alternative and complementary therapies

    The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has issued new patient information on complementary and alternative therapies for fertility patients.