- Actor Jennifer Aniston recently made headlines by opening up about her attempts to have a baby and her use of in vitro fertilization (IVF).
- IVF is not a surefire way to conceive, although it can help some get pregnant.
- Experts offered their thoughts on Aniston’s revelations and what a person can do to maximize their chances of having a baby through IVF.
Jennifer Aniston is making headlines once again.
This time it’s not for her career or speculation over her love life, but instead, the movie and television star is opening up about her issues with fertility and her unsuccessful attempts at pregnancy.
“I was trying to get pregnant. It was a challenging road for me, the baby-making road,” she said.
“All the years and years and years of speculation,” she added. “It was really hard. I was going through IVF, drinking Chinese teas, you name it. I was throwing everything at it.”
Aniston certainly isn’t alone in her fertility journey.
According to the
However, many more people hoping to have a baby undergo IVF and other fertility treatments each year.
Only 21% of IVF cycles in people under the age of 35 results in a live birth. The rate drops off as a person ages as follows:
- 35-37 years old: 17%
- 38-40 years old: 11%
- 41-42 years old: 5%
- 43-44 years old: 2%
- 44 and older: less than 1%
Jessica Monroe, PhD, RD, a dietitian who provides individualized nutrition counseling to people hoping to conceive, says there are things a person can do to raise the odds of success while going through IVF.
“Diet and lifestyle can play a major role in helping to maximize your success with IVF,” Monroe told Healthline. “Eating lots of colorful fruits and vegetables, consuming full-fat dairy, incorporating seafood at least two times per week, and minimizing alcohol intake have all been shown to be beneficial in improving fertility outcomes.”
Dr. Sheeva Talebian, a reproductive endocrinologist at CCRM Fertility in New York, says inflammation can be another factor.
“While the data is limited, science suggests that by decreasing systemic inflammation, you may promote fertility. Inflammation may negatively impact egg health as well as the uterine environment,” she told Healthline.
To decrease inflammation, Talebian recommends an anti-inflammatory diet low in sugar, gluten, and dairy along with safe and consistent exercise.
Aniston talked about how she used Chinese teas in order to improve her chances.
Experts say they support this method with some caveats as a way to maximize the chances of a successful IVF cycle.
“The data varies on the benefit to these adjuncts but they may decrease inflammation, improve circulation and have anti-oxidant features which theoretically can improve fertility,” said Talebian.
“There is room for herbs, teas, and tinctures in your fertility regimen and some have been used for hundreds of years,” Monroe added.
“In the hands of an experienced traditional Chinese medicine practitioner,” Talebian noted, “herbs are safe to take pre-IVF treatment while prepping the body for treatment.”
However, Talebian recommends that “during treatment, we generally advise patients to stop or consult with their [doctor] to confirm the herbs are safe to take in combination with Western medicine.”
Monroe also notes that “there can be interactions between herbs, supplements, and medications so it’s always recommended that they be taken under the supervision of a healthcare professional.”
During her interview, Aniston said, “I would’ve given anything if someone had said to me, ‘Freeze your eggs. Do yourself a favor.’ You just don’t think it. So here I am today. The ship has sailed.”
Freezing eggs comes with its own set of decisions and logistics including cost, the side effects of taking fertility drugs, and a procedure that comes with some risks.
Even if Aniston had frozen her eggs it wouldn’t have guaranteed a successful pregnancy.
“Freezing your eggs also doesn’t guarantee a healthy pregnancy because not all eggs will survive thawing, not all eggs will become fertilized, and not all embryos will be high quality,” Monroe said.
But freezing eggs does have its place and can increase the chances of a successful pregnancy, according to Monroe.
“Egg freezing can increase the likelihood of a future pregnancy, especially for those who want children in the future, those who have certain medical conditions, and are an ideal age to have the most success (typically late 20s, early 30s but entirely depends on egg quality so there’s no ‘perfect’ age),” she added.
Talebian points out another logistic to consider, recommending a person research the clinic they plan to use to freeze their eggs as well.
“Researching clinics and reviewing their success rates and data is crucial because, at the end of the day, women need to go with the clinic they can trust,” she said.
Talebian also recommends asking the clinic about their thaw data.
“Questions like, ‘how many eggs have you thawed’ and ‘how many embryos have you made’ are good questions to ask to get a feel for the clinic’s experience,” she advised. “This may sound like a no-brainer, but women should also clarify that the clinic actually does thaw eggs.”