In an IVF cycle, supporting your eggs and body as much as possible is key, and the time both before and after an egg retrieval can be critical when it comes to egg health and retrieval recovery. While diet is just part of your fertility journey, it can make a big difference. Here’s what to eat before and after an egg retrieval.
What should I eat leading up to an egg retrieval?
It takes roughly 100 days for a follicle to develop into a fully mature egg. The earlier you can adopt healthy dietary practices the better. The healthier the food you put into your body, the greater amount of nutrients and protection you’re providing for your ovaries and your eggs.
Studies show that fertility is best supported with a diet of:
- Low-glycemic index foods: Vegetables, fruits (like apples, pears, berries), oats and oat bran, lentils, chickpeas, beans, quinoa, unsweetened yogurt.
- Plant-based proteins: Chickpeas, lentils, beans, quinoa, ancient grains, nuts and seeds.
- Omega-3 fatty acids: The richest sources include mackerel, sardines and anchovies, though salmon, nuts and seeds can also provide omega-3s.
- Fruits and vegetables: especially those high in antioxidants like berries, purple cauliflower, broccoli, kale, and artichokes.
Meanwhile, avoid these foods while going through IVF, which can be detrimental to fertility:
- Trans fats and partially hydrogenated oils: These are found in pastries, theatre-style popcorn butter, margarine, and even some commercially available peanut butters—check your labels.
- High-glycemic index foods: Refined sugars and processed carbohydrates such as pastries, cookies, white breads and buns, white rice, donuts, sugary sodas and candy.
- Processed meats: Plus avoid a high intake of red meat and saturated fats.
Learn more about the top five foods to eat for your fertility diet.
The Mediterranean diet is a great place to start
Similar recommendations to those above fall under a Mediterranean-style diet which includes high amounts of vegetables, fruits, legumes, olive oil, unrefined grains, moderate consumption of fish and lower intake of other animal meats. Following this way of eating while going through IVF has been shown to positively affect Folic Acid levels and increase the likelihood of a pregnancy and live birth. Although these foods contain lots of nutrients and vitamins, it’s important to continue taking your prenatal and Folic Acid during IVF to ensure your body has an adequate supply.
What to eat the night before egg retrieval?
You’re probably feeling bloated, uncomfortable, or just plain tired from all the appointments, bloodwork and ultrasounds you’ve had to undergo leading up to this moment. However, don’t fall into a drive-thru or food delivery trap the night before your egg retrieval. Following the dietary guidelines above, you want to avoid fast foods, fried foods, and processed foods before your retrieval since these can all be inflammatory and cause oxidative stress in the body. They can also cause increased bloating and gas which is not what you need when your pelvis and belly are already feeling full and bloated. Instead, focus on healthy whole foods that are steamed, boiled, baked or sautéed.
Aim for a warm dish instead of raw or cold dishes since cooked foods are typically easier to digest and take less energy to break down. You can still order in if you’re not quite up to cooking but choose a healthy option that will leave you feeling better, not worse, after eating.
What should I eat after egg retrieval?
The aftermath of a retrieval often requires some recovery. The ovaries aren’t used to producing and growing this many mature eggs at once, and it can cause those ovaries to get big. Where your ovaries are normally almond- to grape-sized, ovarian stimulation can cause them to grow to the size of a peach or an orange. Because of this, you may notice some pressure, discomfort and bloating. Growing multiple eggs and the resulting high levels of estrogen can also cause water imbalances, making the follicle cells of the ovary swell, increasing feelings of bloating.
- Stay hydrated: One of the best things you can do post-retrieval is stay well hydrated and help your body flush out that excess estrogen your ovaries have been producing. Aim for two to three liters of water per day and include an electrolyte solution or powder on the first few days, post-retrieval.
- Replenish electrolytes: Replenish electrolytes with a cup of coconut water (full of potassium and sodium) and skip the fried and salty foods that you might see are suggested as post-retrieval snacks.
- Get enough fiber: Fiber is your friend post-retrieval. Dietary fiber from fruits, vegetables and minimally processed whole grains can help bind and eliminate excess hormones like estrogen. Aim for at least 25 grams per day. This can come from apples, pears, avocadoes, leafy greens, and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, Bok choy, brussels sprouts, and cabbage.
Make sure to read more about how to reduce egg-retrieval bloating and the best IVF diet for before and after transfer