Many people describe the journey of IVF treatment as a never ending roller coaster ride, filled with heart stopping peaks and troughs of emotion. And in what is all undoubtedly a challenging period, the time after your embryo transfer and before you can take a pregnancy test can be one of the worst.
Often referred to as the Two Week Wait or 2WW, it can be a period of isolation and doubt. After weeks of daily monitoring and conversations with your nurses and Fertility Specialist, this period can seem to be an interminable wait. A pregnancy test is not reliable until 16 days after your egg collection and because you’ve been focusing on your body for the past four weeks (or more), you’ll notice and analyse every twinge, symptom or sensation.
Genea’s Counsellors, Nurse Coordinators and your Fertility Specialists are all available to support you during this time and we have a range of tools and programs to help you cope and will be expanding this part of our support service in coming months.
In this post we’re going to outline some of the sensations or changes to your body that can occur during this time to help you understand what is normal.
Period type cramps are very normal during the period between your transfer and the pregnancy test, especially quite soon after an embryo transfer. You might also experience them approximately seven to 10 days after an insemination. It’s around this time an embryo would be implanting if it is going to do so which can cause some discomfort – very similar to your period cramps. That said, not feeling any cramps at all does not mean that an embryo has not implanted – it’s just what some women experience.
Spotting and Bleeding
Spotting or light bleeding is another common symptom and it’s not necessarily the start of a period. Many women experience spotting soon after their embryo transfer – around the time an embryo would be implanting if it is going to do so. The uterus is filled with blood vessels so when an embryo implants, it’s possible for it to irritate a blood vessel close by and cause a bleed. This often shows as a brownish discharge or a small amount of fresh blood. Some women can experience very heavy bleeding, but still have an ongoing pregnancy depending on where the bleeding is coming from and what it is caused by. So, just like the cramps, it’s best not to read too much into it and go ahead with your pregnancy test.
Sore or Swollen Breasts
Your breasts can feel very sore and swollen, particularly after taking FSH injections as they will elevate your hormone levels, particularly progesterone. Everyone has different reactions to these hormones – some women feel no different but are pregnant and others do have swollen breasts and unfortunately are not pregnant. If you’ve been having FSH injections then your progesterone levels will most likely be higher than where they would be on a natural cycle, therefore causing the soreness. Again, don’t pay too much attention to how your breasts feel and if the symptoms come and then go, it could just be your hormones settling and not a sign that the embryo has not implanted.
Bloating is extremely common, especially when you’ve had an IVF cycle because your ovaries are stimulated more than they would be on a natural cycle and therefore can be swollen. After embryo transfer if the embryo implants, more hormones are produced to support the pregnancy. This can cause the ovaries to remain very active on top of their already swollen state and this can increase your feeling of bloating. Bloating can occur whether the embryo implants or not, so if you experience bloating and you are feeling uncomfortable then you may want to contact your nursing team. However, bloating will not affect your embryo and its chances of implanting.
As with most things in fertility treatment there are very few black and white situations and many grey areas when it comes to what women experience during the 2WW. Some women will experience all of the symptoms and feelings we’ve described above and others will have none of them or may get different ones altogether. All of these women may or may not be pregnant. The important thing to remember is that these are normal experiences and they aren’t necessarily a bad sign.
A pregnancy test will give you clear information about pregnancy. Therefore, it is always advisable for all women to wait until the 12th day after embryo introduction and to perform a pregnancy test by taking blood for hCG. From a urine test or a test performed earlier, it is not clear whether or not pregnancy has occurred. Many of you are wondering if everything is lost when the 7th or 8th day urine pregnancy test is negative. We can only say that the final result is only the 12th day after the embryo introduction – confirmed by blood collection.
If you have any doubts, if you do not feel well, spotting or bleeding has occured, you can call our IVF coordinators at 549 523 258. They are ready to advise you at any time or arrange contact with your physician.