After weeks (or months or years!) of in vitro fertilization (IVF), you are likely anxious in the week or two after embryo transfer for positive signs that the embryo has implanted and a pregnancy has begun. Below we’ll outline some of the signs of pregnancy you can look for, what they might mean, and why you don’t need to worry if you don’t experience these.
A week or so after embryo transfer, you may experience some spotting on your underwear, or light bleeding when you wipe after peeing. Because bleeding can occur when the embryo burrows into the uterine lining, it can indicate a successful implantation.
About a week after embryo transfer, mild cramping or pelvic discomfort for a few days may indicate successful implantation. Earlier cramping could also be caused by the body’s response to the embryo transfer procedure.
Changes in your hormones and a rise in human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) in your blood, also known as the “pregnancy hormone,” can cause you to feel nauseous and/or dizzy. This is commonly referred to as “morning sickness,” though it can occur at any time of the day. Since hCG is produced by the placental cells after implantation, you will likely not feel nauseous from hCG until a week or more after your embryo transfer.
Sore breasts that are swollen, or tender when touched, are a common early sign of pregnancy.
As your hormones change during early pregnancy, they can cause increased blood volume in your body. Together, these may cause dull headaches.
You may find that you’re sleeping more at night, having trouble getting up, and feeling foggier and more tired during the day. Changing hormones and an increase in blood volume can contribute to these feelings of tiredness.
Progesterone can relax your muscles and slow down movement in your GI tract, which contributes to a feeling of fullness.
Higher estrogen during early pregnancy can lead to an increase in vaginal discharge, which should be white and creamy.
hCG can also trigger increased urination.
It’s important to note that many people do not experience any symptoms in these very early weeks of pregnancy. If you don’t experience any symptoms, that’s completely normal!
As hard as it is to wait for your pregnancy test, it’s important to rest, relax, and wait for that date on the calendar. One reason for this is that many of these symptoms listed above can also be side effects of progesterone supplementation, or may even be part of the normal hormonal changes that accompany your menstrual cycle.
Additionally, it’s particularly important to wait for your clinic’s pregnancy test if you used an hCG trigger shot before a fresh embryo transfer. hCG is also the hormone the clinic is testing for to confirm pregnancy. Because it can take a while for the hormone from the trigger shot to leave your body, it can lead to a false positive pregnancy test.
Your fertility care team also wants to give you an answer and will bring you in as soon as they are certain hCG levels have had a chance to rise enough in your blood to give you a clear answer on whether or not your embryo has had a successful implantation. Depending on the timing of your embryo transfer and your clinician, this blood test may be taken at your fertility center anywhere from 1-2 weeks after embryo transfer (sometimes known as the two week wait).
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