After an embryo transfer, the two-week wait before a pregnancy test can confirm a pregnancy is particularly anxious one. With that in mind, it’s easy to start scrutinizing your body for any sign of implantation or “feeling pregnant”. But what are the signs of pregnancy after IVF? Let’s go through the signs to watch out for – and what to keep in mind if you do have them.
When to expect symptoms after embryo transfer
In a natural conception, signs of implantation would theoretically occur around the stage the embryo is attaching itself to the womb lining. However, in IVF, the timeline can vary a little depending on the state of your embryo (or embryos) when they were transferred. If you had a 3-day transfer, it will take about 1 week after the transfer for the embryo to finish burrowing into the uterine lining.
On the other hand, if you had a 5-day transfer, your fertility team transferred the embryo once it reached the blastocyst stage. At this stage, it’s already begun to “hatch”, and is hopefully ready to start the implantation process from the get-go. In this case, implantation should be complete 5 days after transfer.
Early pregnancy symptoms you may be familiar with, like sore breasts, are related to hormone levels: particularly the pregnancy hormones hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) and progesterone. Levels of hCG begin to rise after implantation occurs, which in turn keeps progesterone levels elevated.
Early pregnancy symptoms after embryo transfer
The early signs of pregnancy can vary from person to person, and some moms might not notice any at all. However, some common signs include:
Implantation bleeding or “spotting” is light mid-cycle bleeding caused by the embryo burrowing into the uterine lining. It may appear as brownish or pinkish blood, or blood-tinged mucus.
Some moms claim to experience implantation pain or cramping around implantation time. Be mindful of when implantation occurs: many women experience some abdominal cramping in 1 to 5 days after a transfer.
The hormonal changes of early pregnancy can cause symptoms not entirely dissimilar to PMS. For example, you may notice your breasts feeling sore or tender, feel headaches or a general sense of fatigue during this time.
Food preference changes
Morning sickness doesn’t tend to peak until around Week 8 to 11. However, some moms do claim to notice pregnancy symptoms like food aversions and changing food preferences earlier on.
Understanding symptoms like cramping after embryo transfer
There’s a very important thing to remember about early pregnancy symptoms after embryo transfer. At different points of your IVF cycle, you are likely to receive doses of the hormones such as hCG before egg retrieval, and progesterone to help support your uterine lining after transfer.
Since these are the same hormones your body produces naturally in early pregnancy, it’s possible to have symptoms that make you “feel” pregnant after embryo transfer – even if this cycle’s embryo unfortunately failed to implant. Thanks to the hormone doses that go with IVF, you could have all the classic pregnancy symptoms, but not in fact be pregnant. On the other hand, you could be pregnant, but not notice any symptoms at all.
Symptoms after embryo transfer to be aware of
Pregnancy-like symptoms are not uncommon in the two-week wait after an IVF cycle. However, if you do notice any of the following symptoms, see a doctor right away.
- Bright red bleeding from the vagina
- Lower abdominal pain or cramping
- Pain in the chest, leg, neck or pelvis
- Feeling very faint or unwell
- Feeling severe bloating
These could be a sign of serious complications like an infection, ectopic pregnancy, or ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome – so it’s important to get yourself checked up quickly.
Don’t let symptoms after embryo transfer control your life
After an embryo transfer, you might notice symptoms that feel suspiciously like early pregnancy. If your post-transfer symptoms have you feeling very unwell, don’t hesitate to see a doctor. But remember, thanks to the IVF hormones you’re dosed up with, it’s not really possible to rely on your body for signs of pregnancy.
Having symptoms after embryo transfer doesn’t necessarily mean you’re pregnant – but it also doesn’t mean you’re not pregnant! Try to take your symptoms in their stride, and take it easy while you ride out the two-week wait.