You may think it an innocuous thing – slathering your usual lotion onto your skin or spraying yourself with perfume ahead of your egg collection or embryo transfer, but you’d be crippling your chances of Vitro Fertilization (IVF) procedural success.
IVF is an expensive route leading to children but for many couples, it remains the only way to parenthood.
What happens when you undergo an IVF?
A cycle of IVF requires eagle-eye monitoring of a woman’s cycle. During this cycle, at a certain point, the doctor will stimulate a woman’s ovaries to produce more eggs, collect the eggs under anaesthesia and fertilise it using the husband’s sperm in a laboratory setting. Once the eggs and sperm have melded into an embryo, this will be transferred into the woman’s uterus, increasing the chances of pregnancy.
Dr Maria Banti, Laboratory Director and Senior Clinical Embryologist at UAE-based Orchid Fertility clinic, explains the sensitive nature of the job. She says: “Embryos that are created inside the laboratory during an IVF cycle are very sensitive, as they consist of only a few cells and they are outside their natural environment. For this reason, the embryology laboratory has to be designed in a way that it offers the optimal conditions that mimic as much as possible the conditions of the uterus.”
She explains that the following factors need to be handled just so:
- Air quality,
- pH, and
- Gas concentration, etc.
So why should you ditch the perfume?
Banti says: “One of the factors that can be very harmful to the embryo development are substances called Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). It might sound very scientific, but VOCs are substances that are everywhere around us. They can be found in perfumes, plastic and construction, and they can remain in the air. When VOCs come in contact with the embryos, they attach to their DNA and negatively impact their development, leading to detrimental pregnancy rates. This is why IVF laboratories should monitor the air quality and be equipped with special filters and positive pressure to optimise the quality of the air, as it is crucial for the success of the IVF cycle.”
Quality of the egg and ovarian stimulation method used
Quality of the sperm (fragmented sperm DNA can integer with the quality of the embryo)
Embryology lab standards
Lifestyle choices and general health condition (obesity and history of pelvic infections can affect IVF success)
Normal physical activity
Getting ready for an IVF cycle? Remember to forget perfumes on retrieval and transfer day.
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