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.

Ultrasound Exam

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).

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