As well as taking the supplements, we're going to make some of the lifestyle changes they recommend, but not all of them. No doubt if we fail to get pregnant, they'll tell us it's because we didn't follow the programme in full, but there are some things that just won't fit into our life at all, or that I'm not prepared to do.
The first thing they advise is that you should avoid the possibility of pregnancy until your hair has been reanalysed and the balance of minerals is more satisfactory. This is because if we did conceive, miscarriage, premature birth and birth defects are much more likely if we don't have a good balance of minerals. In particular, our zinc and manganese levels are both low, and low levels of both of these have been linked to miscarriage and birth defects. Well, chance would be a fine thing, and as we're unlikely to start our next IVF cycle within four months, I think it'll be pretty easy to avoid getting pregnant.
The next recommendation is to give up smoking and alcohol. Well, neither of us has ever smoked. We don't drink much, and we both always give up alcohol for Lent anyway, so that won't be too hard.
We're only to consume filtered water, and if we drink bottled water it should be from a glass bottle, not plastic. I say 'consume' because it's not just for drinking - they want us to cook with filtered water as well. I have a filter jug somewhere, so I'll dig it out and see how that goes.
They've told us not to carry mobile phones in our pockets, as they "severely damage sperm and affect the ovaries". Thinking about this, I always have my phone with me, and it's often in the pocket of my jeans - which is as close as you can get it to being pressed up against my ovaries. I've now started either carrying my phone in my handbag (but then I don't hear it ring, which kind of negates the point of having a phone with you) or slipping it in my coat pocket as we leave the house.
They also advise us against freezing meals that we have cooked and reheating them some time later, as the process destroys a lot of the vitamins and enzymes in the food. Again, with full-time jobs we need to think of the practicalities, and I don't do a lot of freezing and reheating anyway, but we'll try to avoid it for the next four months.
There's then a long list of things to avoid, as follows:
- Fluoride toothpaste - They have GOT to be kidding! I don't know of any good toothpaste that doesn't have fluoride in it, and I'd rather have healthy teeth, thanks very much. Mind you, I brush my teeth twice a day, use the recommended amount of toothpaste and have very healthy teeth. DH gets through four times as much toothpaste as I do (sharing a tube would lead to divorce, since he makes such a mess of his tubes, so I have to provide it separately for him, and am amazed how much he gets through), so perhaps a gentle word about only using the recommended amount might be in order for him.
- Foil wrap - We don't use it a lot, so that shouldn't be too hard.
- Food additives - I don't buy an awful lot of processed food, but we'll be eating an even higher proportion of fresh fruit, vegetables and meat. I can't guarantee that we'll be additive-free, though - what about when we eat out?
- Microwave food - Again, I never cook in the microwave, though we do occasionally use it to reheat food. I'm not sure we can avoid it altogether, but we will make the effort to reheat soups etc in a saucepan on top of the stove rather than in the microwave.
- Pesticides - We'll eat more organic food, but this is also a matter of time. We both work full-time and have other stuff going on in our lives. Sometimes I just don't have time to prepare stuff from scratch and I cheat by using ready-chopped fresh vegetables. I'll try to be a bit less lazy about this, but I haven't seen any organic ready-chopped stuff, so sometimes we might slip a bit.
- Tuna and swordfish - I can't remember when I last ate swordfish, and we don't have tuna that often. Oily fish are supposed to be good for you, though - I was wondering if we could have tinned mackerel, but then noticed that tinned food is also banned, as are canned drinks.
So there you have it. We were also eating way too much processed sugar, so I've cut that out as much as I can - DH has even given up taking sugar in his tea without me even asking him to. And I've given up caffeine, but haven't asked him to, as it's one of the few things that's not mentioned in the covering letter they sent us.
It's going to be a super-healthy but fairly inconvenient four months...