You have come a long way on your journey to accomplish your dream of having a child. Your research is done and you have decided to pursue IVF. You have been through exams, multiple injections and had your egg retrieval. Yet your journey has just begun.
The next two weeks may be the most stressful time of the IVF process. Some important steps will be taking place during this time. At the end, you will finally find out if the IVF procedure has successfully resulted in a pregnancy.
What are the side effects of egg retrieval?
Immediately after egg retrieval, you may have cramps, or feel pressure or fullness. This is normal, but let your doctor know if you are having trouble eating or drinking, are in excessive pain, or have any fevers.
On the day of the retrieval, your eggs will placed with the sperm using a process known as conventional insemination or intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). On the morning following your retrieval, the embryos will be checked to see how many have fertilized normally. These resulting embryos are then allowed to incubate for three to five days in the laboratory. At this point, the best embryo(s) will be transferred into the uterus. Alternatively, genetic testing, to find chromosomal issues or specific illnesses, can be done prior to embryo transfer. This would increase the chances that a healthy embryo is transferred back into the uterus.
The embryo transfer and implantation
The embryos are examined on the morning of your transfer under the microscope and given a “grade” based on the quality of the embryo. Your doctor will inform you of the quality of your embryo(s) on the morning of the transfer and discuss how many embryos are recommended to be transferred based on your age and the embryo quality. The embryo transfer process will take place in a GENESIS procedure room. Guided by ultrasound, a catheter is placed through the vagina and cervix into the uterus, where the embryo(s) is/are gently placed inside the uterine cavity.
After a few days, if all goes well, the embryo will begin to implant in the uterine lining. To learn more about what is needed for an embryo to implant, read “What is implantation?”
If there are good quality embryos that are not being transferred, there is the option to have the additional embryos frozen for later use. This is called cryopreservation and is another service offered at GENESIS.
How long does it take to recover from embryo transfer?
This is a common question. We recommend that you limit your activity on the day of the transfer and the following day. After two days you can resume normal activity. You may feel some after-effects of the procedure. This can include a small amount of bloody discharge, mild cramping or bloating, and constipation. If pain continues, contact your doctor. He/she may want to examine you.
The two week wait
Although most people are familiar with the term “two week wait”, it is actually only 9 – 11 days after the transfer to find out the results of the procedure. This period can be the most difficult part of the IVF process; filled with emotional ups and downs as you wait to find out if the procedure was successful. It’s so important to take care of yourself, both physically and emotionally, during this time. Stress has no harmful effects on the outcome; but you may find it helpful to have a support network in place and use some of these emotional coping strategies.
Some women find it helpful to concentrate on a new project or work. This gives them something else to focus on and less time to obsess over every twinge they feel. You can also try meditation, yoga or another alternative program. Self care is very important.
The big day
If the result is positive you will continue all of your medications, repeat the blood test every other day to ensure that your HCG levels are rising. Your first sonogram will be scheduled for six weeks gestation (this is generally two weeks after the pregnancy test).
If the result is negative, you will be instructed to stop taking any hormones previously prescribed by your doctor and expect your period to start again within a week. This is not the end of your journey. Even in natural, unassisted conception it takes more than one cycle to become pregnant. Talk with your doctor about the next steps, when you can try again and what protocols, if any, need to be adjusted going forward.
Original post: February 2019
Last update: July 14, 2023