Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART), like IVF, has helped scores of couples overcome the challenges of infertility and achieve pregnancy. However, the entire procedure of IVF can be emotionally taxing for couples. The two-week wait between embryo transfer and the pregnancy test to determine if the procedure has been successful is full of mixed emotions and is frequently referred to by patients as a “roller coaster”. . Women usually look for positive signs after embryo transfer to determine whether pregnancy has been achieved. While some symptoms can predict pregnancy, no symptoms do not mean a negative result. Let us take a look at what these symptoms are and how they are correlated with your pregnancy.
Positive Signs After Embryo Transfer
IVF, or in vitro fertilization, is a technique in which eggs collected from the ovaries of a woman are fertilized with a sperm sample in an artificial environment. The resultant embryo is then implanted in the womb (uterus) of the woman, where it develops into a fetus. Some fertility experts may suggest freezing the embryo for use in the next IVF cycle. This enables genetic testing of the embryos ( so-called PFT-A or PGT-M ), while in some cases, a freshly formed embryo may be implanted. Both these methods have their own advantages, and what is right for you will be decided by your expert.
While the procedure sounds pretty simple, it is extremely complicated since it involves “tweaking,” a highly specialized natural process. While a lot of care is taken, there are always chances of failure. It’s important to be cautiously optimistic but to also plan for the possibility of a negative outcome. Planning ahead can ease the pain of that result.
Once the embryo has been transferred into the womb, the wait begins. Symptoms can be different for everyone; there are certain positive signs after embryo transfer that can indicate a successful pregnancy.
Sore breasts are one of the signs of pregnancy, artificially induced or natural. You could feel pain when your breasts get bumped, even slightly. You can even feel the tenderness when you touch them. However, this cannot be taken as a sure shot sign that your embryo has implanted successfully since this symptom is often caused due to increased levels of progesterone. So if you are on oral or injectable progesterone during the 14-day wait period, you may feel breast tenderness.
Fatigue and tiredness often set in within a week of embryo implantation. Even during normal pregnancy, fatigue often continues till the day of delivery. However, it is more pronounced in the early days of pregnancy and can be a sign that the embryo transfer has been successful. Again, fatigue and tiredness are usually a result of progesterone surge. So if you are on progesterone medication, you may feel fatigued.
You may notice an increase in vaginal discharge if the embryo transfer has succeeded. This results from large changes to internal hormonal secretions caused by the early pregnancy. It is one of the body’s ways to protect the uterus from any infections traveling from the vagina. A healthy vaginal discharge does not smell foul, has only a mild smell, and is usually clear or milky white with a thin consistency. You may also notice changes to your vaginal discharge if your fertility expert has put you on vaginal progesterone suppositories, tablets, and gels.
You may notice spotting or light bleeding about a week after successful implantation. This is sometimes referred to as “implantation bleeding.” While this is a positive sign in some cases, it can also signify a negative result. Bleeding of any amount must be reported to your doctor because it may be due to the embryo failing to implant. While this can be a sign of a successful embryo transfer, spotting may also occur if you are on progesterone medication.
Bloating usually occurs as a result of increased progesterone levels. This could signify pregnancy, or maybe due to progesterone medication. Slowing down of digestion due to increased female hormones makes your abdomen bloat. However, if bloating is associated with moderate to severe pain, you may want to check with your doctor, as it may be due to a condition called ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS). OHSS is a serious condition in which ovaries swell as a result of excessive hormonal activation due to the fertility drugs.
Most women experience cramping in the lower abdomen and pelvis as a sign that their period has arrived; it may also signify successful embryo transfer and implantation. It is common to experience mild cramping during the early days of pregnancy. The cramping is a result of progesterone signaling the muscles and ligaments of the pelvis to loosen up and become more flexible and prepare for the development of the baby.
Hormonal changes in the early days of pregnancy may make many women extremely sensitive emotionally. They may laugh or cry at small things or become irritable at other times. If you are experiencing mood swings, it may be a sign that you are pregnant.
Frequent urination is a result of an increase in the levels of progesterone and HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin). This hormonal increase creates the environment to support the growth of the fetus for the next nine months. One of the results of their activities is an increase in the amount of blood in the body of the woman. This means more volume of liquid to filter and, thus, frequent stops at the bathroom. Another cause of increased urination is due to pressure from the enlarging uterus directly onto the adjacent bladder.
Increased Body Temperature
When the woman is pregnant, there is a noticeable increase in her basal body temperature or BBT. This indicates a rise in the basal metabolic rate or the rate at which metabolic activities occur inside the body. This is obvious as the woman’s body is gearing up to support another life. The BBT is the body temperature when the body is at rest, like when you are asleep. To keep track of your BBT, use a high-quality thermometer to detect your body temperature every day after you wake up. When you notice a constant increase of around one degree, it could be a sign that the embryo implantation has been successful.
Nausea is another symptom you might experience as a result of the workings of the pregnancy hormones if your embryo transfer has been successful. However, this nausea in the very early stages of pregnancy is different from the morning sickness that women experience during the later weeks (usually after 4-6 weeks).
In case you are one of those women who gets her period “like clockwork,” and you have just missed your period post embryo transfer, then it may be a sign that the embryo has successfully implanted and you are pregnant.
What Happens After Embryo Transfer Day by Day?
If you are interested in understanding what happens after embryo transfer day by day with regards to the symptoms experienced by most women, here’s a quick summary of early pregnancy symptoms.
- 1-5 days after embryo transfer – mild spotting
- 2-9 days after embryo transfer – slight enlargement of breasts, along with soreness and tenderness
- Increased body temperature – may start any time post embryo transfer. But remains constantly increased after it starts. Requires careful monitoring.
- Headache, fatigue, nausea, cramping, bloating – may start any time post embryo transfer. In some cases, it may start immediately post successful implantation.
I Have No Symptoms; Should I be Worried?
With this being said, it is very likely that you may not experience any of the above symptoms and yet still be pregnant. In fact, most women do not have any symptoms after their embryo transfer has been successful. In such cases, it is best to remain calm and visit your fertility clinic after the two-week wait period for further checking.
If you wish to get a test at home using an OTC kit, you can do it on the 9-10th day as HCG levels are high enough to be detected in the urine. This is the earliest you will be ab to find out if your embryo transfer procedure was successful. If you do the test too early, you may get a false negative result.
If you get a positive pregnancy test result, it is time to rejoice and consult your fertility expert. However, don’t be disheartened if you get a negative result on your home pregnancy test. Many women who get such a result often stop taking the pregnancy-supporting medicine leading to miscarriages. Your fertility expert will perform a sensitive blood test to confirm the presence or absence of pregnancy.
Grading Embryos Before Transfer
The most common question women who undergo IVF treatment have is that because their fertility expert transferred their “best” embryo, will their “second best” embryo be good enough to create a pregnancy?
To answer this question, it is important to understand that embryo grading is not an exact science. While there is a good quality embryo, there is usually not a bad quality one; the quality is graded by visual examination. Also, because all embryos are developing simultaneously, there is always a chance that a not-so-good embryo will improve as it develops.
An embryo that shows all the characteristics like 6-8 evenly shaped cells with little (less than 10%) fragmentation, is picked for transfer. The other embryos are kept as backup and while they may have comparatively fewer chances of implantation due to their physical characteristics, there are many other factors – fertility history, woman’s age, and genetics – that determine whether they will be successfully implanted or not.
Why You Need an Empathetic Fertility Partner
Getting fertility through assisted reproductive procedures is an emotionally-challenging proposition for most couples. Success rates depend on a lot of factors, and you may have to remain not only perseverant in your efforts but also strong mentally to see the process through.
At Dreams Fertility, we understand your challenges. This is why we have made it our mission to help you at every step of the way – right from the first counseling to helping you realize your dream of having a baby. We use the most advanced tools and methodologies to create customized solutions for you – whether you are a heterosexual or homosexual couple or an individual who wants to experience parenthood. We also offer interest-free and low-interest financing for those patients who qualify.
We are your trusted fertility center serving all of Riverside County, Palm Springs, and across the entire Coachella Valley. To embark on the fascinating journey of parenthood, schedule your consult with one of our fertility experts today.
Dr. Luis Murrain joined Dreams Fertility in 2021, providing specialty services in Fertility and Reproductive Genetics. With a shared vision that everyone deserves to have the family of their dreams, we are dedicated to helping all of our patients. We believe that families come in all shapes and sizes, and all of them are beautiful. We are proud to have a long history of providing services to all, including gay, lesbian, and transgender individuals and couples on their road to parenthood.