There has been much reported in the media about the use of an intralipids supplement and its success in helping a couple to conceive their children where they had previously been told there was no hope.
So can a dietary change really help improve your chances of IVF success? There’s no doubt that maintaining a healthy lifestyle and diet is important for your own health, and it’s common sense to ensure you’re at your best before embarking on any fertility treatment.
In the case reported, the woman was suffering from an immune disorder where her body’s cells ‘attacked’ the developing embryo, causing multiple miscarriages following her IVF cycles. Faced with the option of using a donor egg, they tried an experimental dietary method using intralipids, a highly calorific mixture which some believe help the body accept the embryo so it grows in the womb.
The intralipids – a dietary supplement of natural fats made up of egg yolks and soya oil – are usually used in hospitals to tube-feed sick patients.
So what does this mean for IVF and fertility treatment? Should all women take these calorie-laden intralipids?
What’s important to remember is that this is experimental. One-off and isolated reports about the efficacy of the use of dietary supplements are very difficult to evaluate.
The IVF and miscarriage literature are full of such claims which rarely if ever stand the test of time. Will this treatment work across the board for all women who suffer from the same immune disorder? Or for those who want to increase IVF success? If it did, it would be routinely used across all fertility clinics.
Firstly, you have to show that the patient is definitely suffering from an immune disorder that prevents pregnancy, and secondly that the dietary intralipids will actually cure this disorder.
The fact is that the most important and proven dietary supplement that all women trying to conceive should use, is 400 micrograms of folic acid every day. This reduces the risk of the baby having spina bifida and other neural tube defects.
Last updated: 2nd May 2011