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The two week wait

If you’re going through IVF treatment the two weeks following an embryo transfer can be a really challenging time. After weeks of daily monitoring and conversations with your doctor and your nurse these two weeks often feel like they will never end. As you’ve been so focused on your body throughout your IVF cycle its very normal to notice and analyse every twinge, symptom or sensation. To help you understand what to expect and what’s normal, below is a list of some of the sensations and changes you may experience.

Cramps
Cramps similar to period cramps are very normal between your embryo transfer and pregnancy test, particularly just after your embryo transfer. You may also experience cramps around 7 to 10 days after transfer as this is the time an embryo would be implanting if it is going to do so, which can cause some discomfort. However, not all women will have the same experiences, and if you don’t feel cramps during this time it doesn’t mean your embryo hasn’t implanted.

Spotting or light bleeding
Spotting or light bleeding is another common symptom and it’s not necessarily the start of a period. Many women experience spotting soon after their embryo transfer – around the time an embryo would be implanting if it is going to do so. The uterus is filled with blood vessels so when an embryo implants, it’s possible for it to irritate a blood vessel close by and cause bleeding. This often shows as a brownish discharge or a small amount of fresh blood. So, just like the cramps, it’s best not to read too much into it and go ahead with your pregnancy test.

Sore or swollen breasts
Your breasts can feel very sore and swollen, particularly after taking FSH injections as they will elevate your hormone levels, particularly progesterone. Everyone has different reactions to these hormones – some women feel no different but are pregnant and others do have swollen breasts and unfortunately are not pregnant. If you’ve been having FSH injections then your progesterone levels will most likely be higher than where they would be on a natural cycle, therefore causing the soreness. Again, don’t pay too much attention to how your breasts feel and if the symptoms come and then go, it could just be your hormones settling and not a sign that the embryo has not implanted.

Bloating
Bloating is extremely common, especially when you’ve had an IVF cycle because your ovaries are stimulated more than they would be on a natural cycle. After an embryo transfer if the embryo implants, more hormones are produced to support the pregnancy. This can cause the ovaries to remain very active on top of their already swollen state and this can increase your feeling of bloating. Bloating can occur whether the embryo implants or not, so if you experience bloating and you are feeling uncomfortable then you may want to contact your nursing team. Remember that symptoms of Ovarian Hyperstimulation may often present with swelling and bloating and as such it’s important to discuss these symptoms with your nurse or doctor. However, bloating will not affect your embryo and its chances of implanting.

As with many aspects of fertility treatment patients will have different experiences. Most importantly remember that I am always available to provide support and answer any questions you have throughout these two weeks.