Natural support for increased success of IVF and egg harvesting.

IVF and egg harvesting:
Considering these options? Want a better chance at success? Consider taking steps to improve both egg and sperm quality and increase your chances of a successful harvest/transfer.

The Why
Egg harvesting has become quite the craze in the US over the past decade. There are many theories as to why this might be, a few of the common ones include:

More females focusing on “career first”. Interestingly enough, Facebook, Citibank and several other big companies are now offering to pay for their female employees to harvest their eggs, presumably with the idea that they will focus more on their careers. (1)
Higher infertility rates – the CDC estimates (as of 2013) that the percentage of females ages 15-44 with impaired fertility is 10.9% (2) and the National Center for Health Statistics shows an overall decline in fertility rates since 1990 (3). Though these are correlations and not causative studies, I believe that the amount of exogenous hormones and toxin exposures leading to more endocrine imbalances and thus more impaired fertility for US females and males.
Not finding the “one” and wanting to preserve the chance of having biological children.
Financial gain for egg donations

This is by no means an all inclusive list of reasons, but merely a synopsis of what I see most frequently in my office.

The How
Thinking of harvesting your eggs? Considering IVF? Here are a few more things to consider before jumping into the process.

Egg harvesting typically takes place in two phases, phase one: ovarian hyperstimulation and phase two: retrieval. During phase one, a female usually takes daily injections of hormones both to suppress some of the pituitary hormones and to stimulate the ovaries to produce more immature eggs. Phase two then involves multiple ultrasounds and blood tests, along with a final hormone injection to stimulate ovulation before the eggs are harvested via transvaginal ultrasound. (6)

Eggs may then be stored in temperature control climates indefinitely OR be used for in vitro fertilization (IVF). With IVF the eggs are then inseminated by either adding sperm and letting fertilization happen or injecting sperm directly into the eggs. They then wait for embryos to form and develop properly, before transferring them into a woman’s uterus via catheter. Progesterone shots are typically recommended for the next several weeks to help maintain the uterus during early phases of conception. (5)

Side effects of IVF can include the myriad of menopausal-like symptoms of: hot flashes, mood swings, vaginal dryness, abdominal swelling. More severe side effects, though rare, can include kidney damage, blood clots, structural abnormalities and even death. Frequently, cycles may be irregular after the hormone therapies. For many patients, these side effects are short-lived; however, for others they can cause a greater impact and require more care to abate. (6)

The costs
Estimated cost of egg harvesting is somewhere in the realms of $10,000 plus a $500/year storage fee. This pricing doesn’t account for the fertilization fee and transfer which can easily run another $5000. (4) Estimated average cost of IVF procedure in the US is around $12,000 plus an additional $3-5000 of medications. (5)

Success rates with both IVF and egg harvesting vary depending on several factors, some that can be manipulated (ex: diet and lifestyle) and some that cannot (ex: age).
“According to the Society of Assisted Reproductive Technologies (SART), the approximate chance of giving birth to a live baby after IVF is as follows:
41 – 43% for women under age 35
33 – 36% for women age 35 – 37
23 – 27% for women ages 38 – 40
13 – 18% for women age 41 and over” (7)
Males, you aren’t off the hook here… male infertility rates also seem to be on the rise, with the CDC reporting, “Of men who sought [fertility] help, 18% were diagnosed with a male-related infertility problem, including sperm or semen problems (14%) and varicocele (6%).” Amongst other medical conditions, the CDC further states that the major causes of male infertility also include unhealthy habits (ex: smoking or drinking too much alcohol) and environmental toxins(8), both which we can combat with proper nutritional support and lifestyle choices.

What more can be done?
IVF success obviously depends on the quality of the embryo being implanted, which leads us back to the quality of sperm and egg from the get-go. Here is where naturopathic medicine comes in. There now are numerous studies demonstrating improvements with fertility rates when proper nutrition is in place; this is also why OB’s instruct you to take a prenatal vitamin if you are trying to get pregnant. Males may also be instructed to take vital nutrients to promote sperm health. However, there is so much more than a prenatal vitamin that your body needs to produce the most vital, healthy and viable eggs, sperm and embryos possible.

Several studies are recommending the use of key nutrients such as CoQ10 and other antioxidants to both preserve stores of egg and sperm and prevent oxidative damage to the cells. One study even suggested a 6.5% increase rate of pregnancy in the CoQ10 group. (9) Supplementing DHEA, a precursor hormone in the body, has also shown promising results in optimizing hormones, increasing pregnancy rates, and decreasing the chance of miscarriage. (10) There are several other important nutrients that have been shown to increase success rates of pregnancy, sperm maturation/motility, egg harvesting and IVF; testing for someone’s micronutrient status may also be a helpful tool in the process. Consider consulting with your Naturopathic Physician for more complete recommendations or with help restoring normal function to the body post fertility hormone treatment.


Full IVF package includes:
Full naturopathic fertility intake of both partners
Treatment plans for both partners
Food sensitivity and Micronutrient* testing for both partners
Recommended supplementation for 3 months
1 follow up visit for both partners
Acupuncture PRE and POST implantation**

Partial IVF package (female only) includes:
Full naturopathic fertility intake & treatment plan
Recommended supplementation for 3 months
Acupuncture PRE and POST implantation**
optional Food sensitivity and Micronutrient testing

Full Egg Harvesting package includes:
Full naturopathic intake and treatment plan
Food sensitivity and Micronutrient* testing
Recommended supplementation for 3-4 months***
1 follow up visit

*pricing for the micronutrient test is reflected of co-pay price with insurance; cash pay pricing is an additional $100.
**includes up to 3 implantation sessions
***fourth month includes recommended detox regimen to help aid the body in rebalancing after the fertility hormones should the eggs at that time.

1. Company Paid Egg Freezing Will Be the Equalizer. Time.
2. CDC
3. Population Reference Beaurea
4. NPR
5. Resolve. National Inferitly Association
6. Egg Donor Information Project
7. Medline
8. CDC – Infertility:
9.Coenzyme Q10 Supplementatyion and Oocyte aneuploidy in Women Undergoing IVF-ICSI Treatment. Pub Med:
10. Center for Human Reproduction: