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Are there any positive signs of pregnancy that you can look out for after an embryo transfer with IVF? Yes, there are. But, there’s a few things to keep in mind before you get too excited. Find all the answers below 🙂
Positive Signs of Pregnancy
Here’s a list of early signs that you could be pregnant, within the first two weeks after the embryo transfer:
- Abdominal cramping
- Slight spotting or light bleeding
- Swelling of the breasts
The good news? If you experience any of these, you could be pregnant. The bad news? You could also experience any of these symptoms if not pregnant! The good news again? You could still be pregnant even if you don’t experience any of these symptoms!
Unfortunately, many of these symptoms could also be signs that your period is coming. And if you’ve never experienced pre-menstrual signs, don’t be fulled. The hormones that you took during the IVF cycle will probably change that.
I remember getting all excited because my breasts got extremely big and hard a few days after IUI and that had never happened to me before my period. Turned out I was not pregnant and the big breasts were just a result of the hormones I took to regulate my period. On the other hand, my wife got very big and sore breasts after IVF embryo transfer and turned out she was actually pregnant! So, you can never now for sure.
Also note that these signs are the same early signs of pregnancy for any woman, whether they had IVF or fell pregnant naturally. The good news about IVF though, is that you know exactly at what stage the embryo is at and could be more precise with your calculations 🙂
If successful, an embryo will implant in the lining of your uterus about 6 to 10 days after egg retrieval. Which should be 1 to 5 days after the embryo transfer. When the implantation occurs, you could experience some cramping in the abdomen.
Spotting or Bleeding
When implantation occurs, some capillaries of the uterine lining might also break and this will cause some light spotting or bleeding. It’s known as implantation spotting. Same as per the cramping, if it happens, it will happen 1 to 5 days after the embryo transfer.
Swelling of the breasts
As I mentioned before, big and hard breast may as well be a sign that you are pregnant. This can happen as early as 1 to 2 weeks after the egg retrieval. Meaning straight after implantation occurs or shortly after.
Big, hard and sore breasts are the results of immediate hormonal changes and increased blood flow after implantation.
Headaches, Nausea and Fatigue
These are also other possible signs that you are pregnant and they are all due to the changes in hormones after implantation. Therefore, they could happen any time after implantation, including within the first two weeks after the embryo transfer.
How soon after the embryo transfer can or should you do a pregnancy test?
Now, this is a hard one to answer. Medical professionals will tell you not to do a pregnancy test at home and wait for the blood tests. If the test turns out to be negative, it could be too early for the stick to pick up the hormones, and this could cause unnecessary stress.
So a little voice somewhere in your head will tell you to be patient and listen to them. Another bigger voice in your head, coupled with your racing and excited heart, will tell you to try a pregnancy test at home. How could that hurt? If positive I can be happy earlier and be done with the waiting. If negative, I still have hope that the blood tests will give me a different result. Or at least that’s what happened with my wife and I the first time 🙂
The reality is that it’s not all so black and white. There’s a whole range of emotions that you may be experiencing as a result of the fertility treatment and they may vary a lot depending on your personality. I believe whether or not you should take a pregnancy test earlier than the blood tests depends on how well you think you can handle it if it comes back negative.
One thing is a fact though. There are early pregnancy tests that could pick up pregnancy hormones as early as 8 days after conception. Meaning 8 days after embryo retrieval! I found out I was pregnant with Michaela after I did a pregnancy tests as early as I could. A tiny fainted line, but it was there, and I was all over the moon. That said, this was after I got quite a few negative pregnancy tests with failed cycles before. But there was no way I could have waited! That’s just me. My wife on the other hand, after 2 failed cycles when we did early pregnancy tests at home, decided to wait for the blood test the third time. And third time lucky 🙂
I should also mention that you shouldn’t get too excited with a positive blood test! We made that mistake with our first failed attempt. The hormones levels were good at the first blood test, but already declining at the second one after a couple of days. I would wait a few blood tests confirming the rise in hormones before you can celebrate.
The honest truth
I don’t think there’s much that can compare to the emotional roller coaster that women go through with fertility treatment. The wait to finally get a donor (if you do need one), the hormones, all the blood tests, waiting every time for a phone call to find out what the next step is. The excitement, the frustration, the patience required. And we often go through it with just our partner, without telling friends or family, to avoid hiding the disappointment and tears when things don’t work out.
But when that day finally comes, when the embryo is transferred into your uterus with IVF, all those emotions sky rocket so high you could walk out of the fertility clinic and be shaking in your whole body. I don’t think people that don’t go through fertility issues can really understand. All that wait, all that money. And no guarantee. So, when you are finally almost there, when you know there’s a pretty good chance that embryo will turn into a little person growing inside of you… let me tell you, it’s such a mind fuck. My wife and I have been through both multiple cycles of IUI and three rounds of IVF and were lucky enough to end up with two beautiful daughters. But I remember the days of fertility treatment as the most stressful days of my life.
So, I know that if you are reading this post you are probably looking for that tiny light at the end of the tunnel. A confirmation that if you had a bit of a sore tummy, or maybe at pink-ish spot on your underwear, then you are definitely pregnant. The honest truth is that there is no certain way to find out if you are pregnant or not until a pregnancy or blood test tells you so. I know you’ve been waiting forever and it feels like these extra few days of waiting are going to kill you. But hang in there. It might not be this time, maybe it will be the next one. Or maybe you are about to celebrate one of the happiest days of your life as you find out you are carrying a glimpse of new life inside of you. Whatever that may be, try not to overthink it until you do the blood tests. And I say “try” because I know it’s SO hard!
Tips to increase your chance of falling pregnant
I don’t know if it’s scientifically proven or not, but so many times women that have struggled with infertility only end up falling pregnant when they actually stop trying to conceive. I think there’s something about letting go that actually relaxes your whole body, allowing mother nature to take its course. When we go through fertility treatment, the stress that comes with it sometimes ends up being counter productive. Try and relax as much as possible: my wife took a whole week off from work after the third and last implant. Here are some suggestions:
- Do yoga or meditation.
- Reach out to support groups.
- Do a session of acupuncture: both my wife and I had acupuncture sessions following the sperm injection / embryo transfer.
- Go for walks (without overdoing it though!).
- Do anything that would normally distract your mind. Bear in mind it’s usually recommended you don’t anything that would over-heat the body, such as saunas, hot baths, intense physical activity.
You can read more on how much stress affects fertility here.
Also, check out Monica Bivas: she’s a fertility coach, with an online community for couples seeking or undergoing IVF treatment. She offers a free appointment for people seeking help.
All the best and good luck for your results 🙂
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