What to Expect after Embryo Transfer

The Two Week Wait

Embryo transfer can be extremely successful, however, the period immediately afterwards can be stressful. In IVF, the two week wait, describes the length of time between the embryo transfer and either the start of a period or a positive pregnancy test. It is known as the two week wait because that's all you can do - wait. The injections, scans and blood tests have been completed and the waiting game has begun.

The First Hour

For the first 30 to 60 minutes following transfer, the patient remains lying on their back. It is normal to have a very full bladder prior to embryo transfer. This is because the procedure involves the use of ultrasound scans, which work best if the sound waves travel through fluid. The need to empty the bladder is generally said to be one of the most uncomfortable parts of the procedure. This is completely normal and nurses will be on hand to assist with a bed pan. Many women worry unnecessarily that the embryo will fall out when they start to walk around. This simply won't happen. If it did, there would be very few pregnancies.

The First Week

Some doctors advise complete bed rest for the first few days after transfer. This is to aid implantation and to keep the uterus as relaxed as possible. Following this, for the first couple of weeks, a woman is advised not to drink alcohol, limit their caffeine intake and refrain from sexual intercourse. Strenuous physical activities should also be avoided. There may be some light vaginal bleeding and possibly even some infection in the days following the procedure. Spotting can be due to the use of a catheter or speculum during the transfer, or be caused by the hormone supplements. Implantation bleeding can also occur when the embryo burrows into the uterine lining. Progesterone and oestrogen hormones are generally still prescribed until the result of the pregnancy test has been ascertained. This will keep the uterine lining in its best possible condition. Depending on hormone levels, doses may need to be adjusted by the doctor. Unless the doctor advises otherwise, there is no reason why an immediate return to work is not possible, as well as travel and engagement in light activity such as driving, shopping and housework.

The Second Week

During the middle of the second week after implantation, a pregnancy test can be taken. A positive test will be repeated to ensure it is accurate. If the test is negative and there are any remaining fertilized embryos, implantation could be attempted again, during the next menstrual cycle. The pregnancy test is generally carried out at the clinic by blood test. Doctors do not recommend testing too early, using a home test, as the hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) in the hormones used to prepare the eggs, is the same hormone used in urine pregnancy tests, and could lead to a false result.