What to Expect After Embryo Transfer


The final step of the IVF process is the embryo transfer. After weeks of medications, egg retrieval, monitoring and series of laboratory culture- the embryo is finally transferred to the uterus. In case the cycle uses frozen embryos, the body needs to be prepared first before the transfer. The embryos need to be properly thawed before introducing them into the intended mother’s womb as they were left over from an earlier cycle and frozen.

The Final Step of an IVF Procedure

This is, in fact, the most emotional moment on the IVF cycle. It is also an exciting moment for many intended parents. This is the time when the intended mother’s hopes and anticipation are at its peak. There is nothing more important for her than becoming pregnant. A lot of preparations have been done to reach this part of the process.

Women who have been unable to conceive naturally come for this treatment procedure to conceive. Hence, the hopes are high during this time. A lot of expectations are involved and also potential disappointments. It is the most crucial time for the couples, when they invest a lot of time in researching the best ways to take care of each other. They can often be found surfing the internet to find tips on how to calm their nerves till the time for the official pregnancy test.

Embryo Transfer

The embryo transfer is an easier procedure compared to the other medical processes of an IVF cycle. It does not require any anaesthetic or sedation to introduce the embryos into the uterus The mother has to remain under the doctor’s observation for a minor period, often only between 2 and 4 hours.

The success rate of embryo transfer is almost the same with both fresh and frozen embryos. Many studies have suggested better success rates and outcomes out of the previously frozen embryos. If not better, they are at least as good as the fresh embryos.

The doctor uses a fine catheter to insert and then move the embryos through the vagina and cervix and finally into the uterus. Patients are allowed a rest for a couple of hours in the recovery room and are released soon after that. A day’s relaxation at home is the most piece of relaxation that your body needs this time.

There is no risk involved with the embryo transfer. It is a very safe routine procedure. There is a very small chance of any side effects during this procedure. In rare occasions, the patient has been known to experience mild cramping. Doctors prescribe supplemental progesterone before releasing the intended mother. This supplement supports the possible early pregnancy.

After Effects of the Transfer

Patients are recorded to go back to their normal life within days of the embryo transfer. However, doctors advise them a couple of days rest before resuming normal activities. Normal physical activities related to day to day life, in fact, enhance the flow of blood to the uterus. There is no hard and fast rule during this time for the intended mother. Honestly, this is the time to listen to what the body has to tell you. Take rest if you feel tired. Re-join your daily activities the moment you feel energised again. Go for walks or try meditation if you feel anxious. This can help relieve the stress for you. Meditation is one of the greatest tools to calm the mind, body, and soul during this time. It relaxes the body and soothes the mind. It keeps the person away from negative thoughts during this anxious phase. Yoga accompanied by meditation is the best way to stay positive and fit in this time.

The first pregnancy test is usually done two weeks after the embryo transfer. However, some enthusiastic couples try the home urine test to try to detect a pregnancy. Doctors do not recommend such home pregnancy tests since it can give misleading results so early in the pregnancy. In the IVF procedure, the woman is already given shots of hCG hormones that remain present in the bloodstream. The HPT is only able to detect the presence of hCG hormone. This can lead to a false positive result from the urine pregnancy test.

The hCG hormone is injected in the intended mothers to trigger the ovulation process. This procedure is done before the egg retrieval. hCG hormone misleads the results of pregnancy detection in a HPT. The hormone lingers in the bloodstream for quite some time and is responsible for the false positive result. This can be emotionally very difficult for the intended parents. It causes them unnecessary distress.

The following symptoms are usually experienced in the gap of two weeks between the embryo transplant and pregnancy test:

  1. Slight bloating

  2. Mood swings

  3. Fatigue

  4. Light spotting

  5. Sore breasts

These entire symptoms are the same as premenstrual symptoms. It is very difficult to consider them as early pregnancy symptoms. Hence, it is advised to not think much about it and lead a normal positive life during this time.

In case the symptoms get severe or you suffer from discomforts like chest pain, breathlessness or lower abdominal pains, do not delay a moment in reporting to the doctor.

Precautions After Transfer to Improve Chances of Implantation

This is the phase to remain positive and hopeful. Take it easy during this time and do not unnecessarily stress yourself. Remember, nothing will be better by putting yourself under stress. So, it is better to stay calm and get plenty of sleep. Avoid caffeine, tobacco, and alcohol during this time as it might have adverse effects on the pregnancy results.

Refrain yourself from sexual intercourse and vigorous exercise during these two weeks. Physical strain during this time might lead to uterine contractions. The ovaries remain slightly enlarged and tender during this phase and are vulnerable to severe complications like ovarian torsion or a twisted ovary.

Make sure that you eat healthily and take a lot of care of yourself. Make sure your diet contains plenty of protein, vegetables, and fibre. Avoid foods like soft cheeses or high-mercury seafood. Above all, you need to remain with someone who is your emotional support and helps you remain strong during this stressful time. Pass quality time with your partner, family, friends, therapist and all those people who help you to relieve some of the stress of the waiting.

What Next?

After the completion of two weeks, you have to visit your IVF clinic to take the pregnancy test.

For the lucky ones who have a positive test result, it’s time to stay under the care of your fertility team for the next eight to ten weeks. This is when they will monitor the pregnancy development through regular blood tests and ultrasounds until the time they find you ready to be transferred to the regular obstetrician. In case the test is negative, you would be referred to the doctor again to plan your next course of medication and to regroup for the next trial.