Dr. Ralf Zimmerman Reveals 4 Ways on How to Prime Your Body for IVF


  • Chrissy Teigen and John Legend have announced they will try to conceive a second child using IVF 
  • The couple's first child, Luna, one, was born thanks to IVF in April 2016
  • Teigen has spoken out about the toll IVF has taken on her body
  • We spoke to a fertility expert to find out how women can best prepare their bodies for IVF treatments 

Celebrity couple John Legend and Chrissy Teigen recently revealed that they plan to try to conceive a second child via IVF treatments. The couple's first child, Luna, was born in April 2016 through in-vitro fertilization - and now they are ready to try again.

Model and TV personality Teigen, 31, and singer Legend, 38, have been very vocal not only about their struggle to conceive over the years but also about parenting topics that are conventionally viewed as 'taboo', such as postpartum depression and 'mom-shaming'.

Teigen told Self Magazine in 2016 that she was originally very confused about why she and Legend could not conceive. 'I thought, "People get pregnant by accident all the time! How does this happen?",' she said.

And she recently talked about the toll that IVF has taken on her body, adding that she is now trying to reboot her health to maximize her chances of getting pregnant again. Teigen and Legend have opened up a conversation about the sometimes-harsh realities of fertility issues.

Here, Dr Ralf Zimmerman from Neway Fertility in New York explains the best ways women who are considering trying IVF can prepare their bodies for the process. In order for a woman to get pregnant, her ovaries, uterus and fallopian tubes need to be functioning properly. Conditions that affect these organs may render a woman infertile.

Examples include:

  • Polycystic ovary syndrome - a condition which causes women to ovulate irregularly or not at all
  • Functional hypothalamic amenorrhea - a condition caused by low body weight or excessive exercise
  • Premature ovarian insufficiency - a condition which causes a woman's ovaries to cease to function before she is 40 years old

Infertility in men can be determined via a semen analysis, which studies a man's sperm count and the motility and shape of his sperm. If a man's testicular or ejaculatory functions are disrupted, this may cause him to be infertile. These disruptions can be caused by:

  • Varicoceles - a condition which causes the veins on a man's testicles to overheat
  • Previous trauma to a man's testes
  • Illicit drug use 
  • Smoking
  • Heavy alcohol use

The CDC estimates that about 12 percent of women aged 14 to 44 are infertile. It has also said that 7.3 million women in the US have turned to medical treatments, such as IVF, to treat fertility issues. IVF has been an increasingly popular choice for women struggling to conceive since the birth of the first IVF baby, Louise Brown, 39 years ago this summer. If a woman decides to undergo IVF treatments, her eggs are extracted from her and fertilized outside of her body. The resulting embryos are then implanted in her uterus.

One IVF cycle lasts about two weeks and, while receiving IVF treatments increases a woman's chances of conceiving, it does not always result in a pregnancy. And women often have to have more than one round of the treatment to become pregnant.

Dr Zimmerman said that it will generally take a 35-year-old woman, who is otherwise healthy, two to three IVF cycles to become pregnant. He offered some advice to women who are considering receiving IVF treatments.


One of the most important tips Dr Zimmerman offers to women looking to conceive through IVF is try to relax. Specifically, he recommends that women get acupuncture two to three times a week. And he thinks they should start doing this a month or two before beginning IVF treatments because it takes a while to kick in.

'What happens is it helps people relax,' Dr Zimmerman said. 'It helps them prepare better to go through the cycle.'

Dr Zimmerman added that acupuncture leads to better blood flow, which will result in higher quality eggs. In addition to acupuncture, exercise will also ease women's stress levels, which will help the process work better, Dr Zimmerman said. But he warned that after the first six to seven days of IVF treatments women should refrain from doing strenuous workouts. Aggressive twisting and turning movements can cause a woman's ovaries to bend, thus compromising their blood supply.

Dr Zimmerman recommends fast walking for exercise after about a week of IVF treatments. 'It's a great way to release stress,' he said.

He also urges his patients to get plenty of sleep and try to take it easy at work, if possible.

'Go to bed a little bit earlier,' he said. And at work, Dr Zimmerman said to 'look ahead'. He tells his patients to 'decrease their work load somewhat' while they are receiving IVF treatments.

'It's never very good if they have a stressful job. [IVF] is already stressful enough,' Dr Zimmerman explained.

And he emphasized that, whatever a woman's relaxation routine, it is crucial that she maintain it while trying to conceive through IVF.

'If [women] do some meditating for relaxation, they should continue that,' Dr Zimmerman said.

'Continue what you use to decrease your stress levels,' he added.

Lastly, Dr Zimmerman said women should be kind to themselves during this time. He said that because receiving IVF treatments can be very stressful, he tells women: 'Reward yourself with tiny things' after hitting milestones during the process.

'People underestimate how stressful [IVF] is. Physicians underestimate how stressful it is,' he said.


2. DIET 


Dr Zimmerman said it is important to maintain a balanced diet. 'One should eat healthy food and avoid fish,' he added. He said that eating healthy food - and loads of fruits and vegetables - can make a woman's eggs higher-quality.


Women should also limit their alcohol and caffeine intake, he warned.

'I normally recommend [they] try not to drink alcohol at all,' he said. And he added that, while some of his patients religiously avoid coffee, he thinks moderate amounts will not hurt. 'One should cut down with caffeine,' he said, but they do not need to totally cut it out.

Teigen recently mentioned in an interview with Cosmopolitan that, as she gears up for another round of IVF treatments, she will be cutting back on alcohol.



Dr Zimmerman recommends that women who want to try to conceive using IVF take folic acid and vitamin D but he said they should take caution not to take too much of the supplements.

He also said that if a woman struggles with constipation, they should watch their iron intake. Consuming too much iron can make them more constipated, which can decrease their chances of successfully conceiving though IVF. And herbs should be avoided while a women is undergoing IVF treatments, he said.

'I'm always a little bit skeptical with that,' he explained. His reasoning is that there are not proper studies that look at the effects herbs have on women so it is best to avoid them when trying to get pregnant.



Women also need to stay on top of their medication schedules during this time, Dr Zimmerman said.

He advises all of his IVF patients to sit down with a nurse to make sure they understand when they need to take certain medications and when they need to get injections. 

'These instructions are absolutely critical,' he said, adding that he frequently gets calls at 11pm because women want to make sure they are doing or taking the right thing.   

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