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Early Signs Of Pregnancy After IVF Embryo Transfer

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First Signs Of Pregnancy After IVF Embryo Transfer

If you are using IVF to get pregnant you have to spend a stressful two weeks waiting after the embryo is transferred, before taking a pregnancy test. A missed period, spotting, morning sickness, tiredness, swollen and tender breasts are some physical signs that may indicate pregnancy, but are not a surefire proof to predict fertility success.

If you’ve been struggling to get pregnant you might have turned to in vitro fertilization (IVF) for help. This treatment can be useful for addressing various causes of infertility. For instance, if advanced age is making it difficult for you to fall pregnant, or your fallopian tubes are blocked or damaged, or your partner has a low sperm count.

During in vitro fertilization, an egg is removed from your body and fertilized by sperm in a lab. This fertilized egg (known as an embryo) is then transferred to the woman’s womb where it attaches to the lining of the uterus and can then develop and grow. However, in many cases, the treatment is not successful and the embryo doesn’t attach to the uterus. In fact, taking various factors like your age into account your doctor may transfer more than one embryo to improve your chances of getting pregnant. Now, a pregnancy test which will tell you whether you’ve become pregnant is usually carried out about 12 to 14 days after the embryo is transferred and the two weeks that you spend waiting to hear the “news” can be exhausting and fraught with anxiety.1 During this period it might be helpful to be on the lookout for some physical signs that could indicate that you’re pregnant. Do remember though that only a pregnancy test can definitely tell if you’re pregnant.

Early Signs That You’re Pregnant

Here are some early symptoms of pregnancy:

Spotting

When the embryo attaches itself to the lining of your uterus it can cause some irritation and damage to blood vessels. This can cause slight bleeding which you may notice as blood spots on your panties. You might even experience some cramping or soreness. This could be one of the first signs that you’re pregnant.2

Missed Period

Whether your pregnancy is the result of IVF treatment or natural conception missing your period is one of the earliest and most significant signs that you’re pregnant.3

Swollen, Tender Breasts

Your breasts may become fuller and feel sore when you become pregnant. And you might start noticing these changes to your breasts soon after you become pregnant.4

Fatigue Or Tiredness

It’s common to feel extremely tired or fatigued in the early stages of pregnancy. This is considered to be due to an increase in the levels of the hormone progesterone. Progesterone helps your baby grow but it also slows down your metabolism and this could mean that you have less energy. You’ll usually get back your normal energy level around the fourth month.5 6

Morning Sickness

You could also experience nausea or morning sickness when you get pregnant.7 This usually stops during the third or fourth month though some women experience nausea and vomiting throughout the pregnancy.8

Do keep in mind though that many of these early signs need not necessarily mean that you’re pregnant. Medication that you take during IVF treatment can also be responsible for these symptoms. For instance, progesterone ( which is prescribed during IVF treatment) causes breast tenderness and nausea. Only a pregnancy test can tell for sure if you’re pregnant.9

What’s The Next Step

Once the embryo is transferred into your womb your doctor will give you shots or pills of progesterone for 8 to 10 weeks. This hormone which is usually produced by the ovaries helps to thicken the lining of your uterus, making it easier for the embryo to attach.

About 12 to 14 days after the embryo transfer you’ll be able to take a pregnancy test to find out if you’re pregnant. Your doctor might advise you to do a urine pregnancy test at home or ask you to a blood test which is more accurate.10

Dealing With The Wait

The two weeks that you wait to find out whether your treatment worked can be extremely stressful. You can go through an entire gamut of emotions during this time – from anxiety and fear to hope and anticipation. Here are some tips that might be helpful during this period:

  • Take deep, slow breaths when you feel anxious. This can help calm you down.
  • Treat yourself to things that you enjoy while you wait for the result, this may distract your mind from negative thoughts and keep you from feeling anxious. In fact, this could be the perfect time to curl up with that page turner you’ve been meaning to read or cook up your favorite recipe.
  • Don’t tell too many people about your treatment cycle. This will be helpful because you will not have to go through the difficult process of letting people know if the treatment is not successful. And decide in advance how you’re going to communicate with the people that you do tell.
  • Talk to your partner and discuss how you’re going to handle it if the treatment’s not successful. For instance, you might decide that going out to a movie would be a welcome distraction or you might prefer to be left alone for a while.11

If you do receive negative news remember that you can always explore your treatment options and that you may be able to try again if you should so decide.

What Precautions Should You Take?

Here are a few things that you need to be careful about while you wait to find out if you’re pregnant:

  • Your doctor will talk to you about how much physical activity you can tolerate if you’ve had an IVF cycle. As a rule, it’s best to stick to moderate levels of physical activity and avoid exercises that increase your heart rate or body temperature too much.
  • It’s best to keep away from artificial sweeteners and foods with MSG during early pregnancy.
  • Do check in with your doctor right away if you have heavy vaginal bleeding, a fever, abdominal, neck, pelvic, or leg pain, or you’re feeling faint or dizzy as these could be indicative of a tubal pregnancy (where the embryo attaches outside the womb) or an infection.12

References   [ + ]

1. In vitro fertilization (IVF). National Institutes of Health.
2, 3, 4, 6, 7. Pregnancy Symptoms — Early Signs Of Pregnancy. American Pregnancy Association.
5. Pregnancy – signs and symptoms. Department of Health & Human Services,
8. Morning sickness. National Institutes of Health.
9, 11, 12. Surviving the 2 week wait. RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association.
10. In vitro fertilization (IVF). National Institutes of Health.