Written by: Dr. Olivia Carpinello, a reproductive endocrinology and infertility specialist at CCRM Fertility of Northern Virginia
The “nine day wait” between your embryo transfer and your pregnancy test is often one of the most stressful times during the in vitro fertilization (IVF) process. It’s easy to fixate on every physical symptom you experience. To ease some of the anxiety during your wait, here’s what you can expect after your embryo transfer, as well as tips on what to do and what to avoid.
Do: Know the side effects
Some of the side effects after an embryo transfer are similar to early pregnancy signs, which can include:
- Spotting, which may last a few days to a week and may range from bright red to brownish discharge
- Mild bloating and cramping
- Feeling tired and emotional
If you don’t notice any symptoms, it doesn’t necessarily mean your embryo transfer wasn’t successful.
Do: Take time to relax
You’ve been through a lot and it’s time to focus on yourself. It can be nerve-wracking waiting for your pregnancy test. Try watching some of your favorite movies, eating your favorite foods, calling a friend, or reading a book—anything you enjoy that takes away the stress you are experiencing. You should be able to resume most of your regular activities in 1 or 2 days after your embryo transfer, but continue to avoid alcohol.
Don’t: Take hot baths
Overheating in general can affect your embryo transfer, so avoid saunas, hot tubs, or hot baths (showers are fine) until your doctor gives the OK. Embryos are sensitive to heat, so you don’t want to do anything that will increase your body temperature.
Don’t: Stop taking your medications
Most patients will need to take hormonal medications, such as estradiol (a form of estrogen) and progesterone, which are important for implantation and maintaining a healthy pregnancy, so make sure you’re taking them on time. Don’t take any other medications, including over-the-counter medications, without your doctor’s approval. One of the most common post-transfer questions is, if you have bleeding or spotting, should you even bother continuing the medications? The answer is always yes!
Don’t: Over research
When you’ve been through something you’re emotionally, physically, and financially invested in, you want to do everything possible to ensure it worked. It might be tempting to research all the possible symptoms you have, or don’t have. Immediately taking pregnancy tests might also be appealing, but you’ll likely only succeed in increasing your anxiety.
In the end, while there are many things you can do to create the most optimal environment for a pregnancy, most of it comes down to the things that are out of your control. The best advice is to follow your discharge instructions from your clinical team. Review your paperwork carefully to understand what to expect, especially in the first few days following your transfer. Your instructions should go over activity levels, medications to take, possible side effects, and when to call your doctor.
Do: Call your doctor, if needed
CCRM Fertility clinics have an after-hours line where you can reach a doctor, so don’t hesitate to give them a call no matter the time of day. Some reasons to notify your care team include:
- Severe pain or heavy bleeding
- Severe bloating, feeling short of breath, nausea and/or vomiting, or urinating less (these can be signs of ovarian hyperstimulation if you had a fresh transfer)
- Fever of 101° F or higher
- Any concerns about your medications or symptoms
Make an appointment today with one of our CCRM Fertility specialists if you’re interested in building your family with fertility treatments.