Perceptions among infertile couples of lifestyle behaviors and in vitro fertilization (IVF) success

Hawkins LK et al, J Assist Repro Genet (2014) 31: 255-260.
Journal of Assisted Reproduction and Genetics

Acupuncture was one of several factors investigated in the surveys that 200 IVF patients in the USA completed recently.
63% of them considered that acupuncture was helpful for women having IVF.


Purpose: To assess how patients perceive various lifestyle behaviors impact IVF success.

Methods: Cross-sectional study of heterosexual, English-speaking couples (n  = 138) who completed web-based surveys during IVF treatment cycle. Perceived impact of lifestyle choices assessed by multivariable logistic regression and p-value tests for linear trend (Pt).

Result(s): During the IVF cycle, most patients consider it helpful for women to exercise (76 %), avoid stress (87 %) and limit activity after embryo transfer (92 %). The majority of patients (62 %) consider rigorous exercise (4+ h/week) helpful and nearly one-third (32 %) perceive benefit to complete bed rest after transfer. Overall, couples with a sex-specific infertility diagnosis are more likely to consider partner’s lifestyle choices impactful: male-factor couples are more likely to consider it helpful for men to limit cellular phone use (OR:2.73,CI:1.06–7.04) and diminished ovarian reserve couples are more likely to consider it helpful for women to limit exposure to plastics (OR:2.38,CI:1.03–5.51). Patients at higher levels of education (Pt < 0.01) and income (Pt < 0.01) are less likely to consider lifestyle impactful.

Conclusion(s): Patient perceptions of the impact of lifestyle factors on IVF success vary by sex, infertility diagnosis and socioeconomic factors. Despite counseling to the contrary, many patients perceive benefit to rigorous exercise during the IVF cycle and complete bedrest following transfer. Results provide insight into patient beliefs and highlight opportunities to improve patient education, alleviate patient anxieties and potentially improve IVF outcomes.