After weeks of treatment and months or even years of planning, the day of your embryo transfer has finally arrived. On one hand, it’s the day you’ve been waiting for. On the other, it’s the beginning of the most anxious time of all, as you wait to find out whether you’re pregnant. To help you navigate your way through the next two weeks, we’ve put together our tips, advice and a few useful dos and don’ts after embryo transfer to increase your chances of success.
If you’re looking for something more proactive than the simple advice of well-meaning friends to ‘carry on as normal’ or ‘take it easy’, read on.
What to do (and not to do) after embryo transfer – our top 5 tips
Following your embryo transfer procedure, here are a few extra points to bear in mind in this final stage of the IVF process to give your treatment the best possible chances of success.
- Do take time off work, if you can. Bed rest is not necessary, but it can certainly help to take time off work to slow down: take things gently, read a good book, cook your favorite meal, think of it as a weekend off. If you absolutely must go back to work, it’s not the end of the world as long as it’s not heavy manual work. But, if you are able to give it a miss just for a couple of days, that’s even better.
- Do eat a super-healthy and nutritious diet. Now’s the time to start as you mean to go on, and eat as you would during pregnancy. Pay extra attention to making sure you get a good variety of fresh fruit and veg, your protein of choice, whether that’s dairy, fish, meat or plant-based, and healthy fats like olive oil. If you haven’t already started, remember to take your folic acid supplement.
- Do try to manage your stress levels. Research shows that many people experience a cortisol spike after their embryo transfer day, so it’s very normal to feel very anxious during the days that follow. Don’t let it add to your worries! While there’s no scientific evidence that stress will impact negatively on success rates, your mental and emotional health is paramount. Difficult emotions should not be bottled up. The best way to deal with these feelings is to acknowledge them and talk to your partner, friends, family or a support group. Many people find the friendship and encouragement they get from a support group to be extremely valuable. In the UK, a good starting point for finding a support group near you is Fertility Network UK.
- Do read up on why there’s no point doing an early pregnancy test. We don’t say this to make your waiting time even more difficult and we know the temptation is bound to be there, but there are sound reasons for why we advise against it. After a course of IVF treatment, the hormonal medication you’ve been given could still be circulating in your bloodstream, possibly leading to a false positive. On the other hand, if you test negative, this too could be mistaken because you’ve done the test too early. Either way, the ‘result’ is not reliable.
- Do keep taking your medication. Another temptation may be to abandon the medication regime that your life has revolved around for the past weeks, but it’s really worth following doctor’s orders here. We know it can feel like an extra burden to keep on with the progesterone, whether through vaginal suppositories, injections or both, but it has a vital role to play in assisting implantation and maintaining the pregnancy in the early days.
What not to do after embryo transfer
There are also some things that are best avoided during this short period of time, so you can be confident you’re not reducing your chances of success.
- Don’t engage in sexual intercourse. Many doctors advise against having sex during the two weeks after embryo transfer because of the possibility of uterine contractions interfering with implantation. Others have reservations because there is a small risk of infection. Although some doctors believe it to be harmless, the fact that potential risks exist makes abstinence worthwhile for this short time. If you have any concerns, it is definitely an issue to discuss with your doctor.
- Don’t drink alcohol and avoid other stimulants . It almost goes without saying that alcohol should be avoided because of the chance that you are pregnant, and the well-known potential damage that alcohol can cause the growing foetus. It’s also a good idea to avoid fizzy drinks and too much caffeine.
- Don’t worry about slight cramping. At this early stage, slight cramping is nothing to worry about. It could be a sign of implantation, it could be a sign of an impending period, or it could just be a normal bodily reaction to the transfer procedure. There is no way of knowing if you depend on your body alone: you need to wait for the blood test.
- Don’t worry about spotting or light bleeding. In the same way, spotting or light bleeding is impossible to interpret. Many women do experience both cramping and spotting as signs of implantation, but even more women who are pregnant do not. Find out more from our article about the differences between menstrual and implantation bleeding .
- Don’t ignore severe symptoms. If you experience severe bleeding or cramping, you should get medical help immediately. Other symptoms which could indicate a problem include sudden weight gain, abdominal pain, vomiting or diarrhoea. Be on the safe side if you’re unsure about whether your symptoms are ‘severe’ and contact your doctor.