IVF Step By Step – Step Four
After the embryos have been transferred to your uterus you’ve entered ‘step four’ of the IVF process, otherwise known as the waiting game. Although studies have found no link between strenuous exercise after transfer and the success rate of IVF (‘success’ meaning the implantation of an embryo in the uterine lining, not necessarily a full term pregnancy) some fertility clinics may advise you to avoid high-intensity physical activity and vigorous sex for a short while after embryo transfer has taken place. You should follow the advice of your fertility doctor. Other than that, all you can do is wait to see if a pregnancy occurs.
Implantation of the embryo (or embryos) in the lining of the uterus generally takes two to three days after embryo transfer, in the case of three-day-old embryos (eight-cell embryos). See our section on IVF Step Three for more information about this. In the case of five-day-old embryos, called blastocysts, implantation usually takes place one to three days after embryo transfer.
Positive Pregnancy Test
If you have not had a menstrual period within 14 days of embryo transfer you should take a urine-based pregnancy test recommended by your fertility doctor. If your doctor has advised you to use a certain brand of pregnancy test or has actually given you a test to take, use that one and not another type. After 16 days have passed since embryo transfer, a blood test can be carried out to detect pregnancy. Your fertility doctor will want to monitor your progress during this time and you should contact him immediately upon a positive pregnancy test result.
Negative Pregnancy Test
Remember that urine-based pregnancy tests are not always 100% reliable. Even if you get a negative result, you should still contact the fertility clinic to have a blood test done.
hCG and progesterone
If you pregnancy test come back positive, your fertility doctor may want to put you on a course of hCG or progesterone hormones. These are pregnancy hormones which help your body to maintain the pregnancy and nurture the embryo.
After a certain amount of time (this will vary depending on the methods of your fertility clinic) you’ll be brought in for an ultrasound examination. This allows your doctor to determine whether or not you are still pregnant and how many embryos have implanted in your uterus (namely, how many potential babies you are carrying).
IVF Due Date
Calculating your due date after getting pregnant through IVF is done a little differently than it would have been if you had conceived naturally. Basically, you should count 266 days (38 weeks) from the date that the eggs were removed from your ovaries and fertilised.
The day of fertilisation is treated as the 14th day of a natural menstrual cycle. This gives you a total of 40 weeks. Usually, the due date of a natural pregnancy is calculated as 40 weeks from the first day of the last menstrual period.
If you do get your period within 14 days of embryo transfer or you have a negative pregnancy test confirmed by your fertility doctor, you are, of course, going to be very disappointed.
Fertility clinics in the UK will provide support and counseling for couples going through the IVF process. Remember that this may not necessarily be your last attempt at IVF, depending on your financial resources, the NHS coverage for IVF in your area, or the number of IVF cycles you’ve already had.
Even when IVF fails, as it does for some couples, there are still other methods of becoming parents available to you.