8 after embryo transfer precautions: Increase chances of implantation
You’ve gone through IVF managed to survive the medications and your relationship is still strong. You had eggs retrieved, they’ve been fertilised, and you had an embryo(s) transferred now you wait. We explore what after embryo transfer precautions you can take to increase your chances of implantation and stop you from asking
What happens after transfer?
After you have had your embryo transferred you then enter the waiting period, for those who are trying to conceive this is often called the two-week wait. This is a period of high emotional stress and anxiety, whilst you wait to find out if all the effort you put in through your IVF cycle is going to result in a child.
You are sent home quickly after the transfer and not really given a huge amount of advice from the clinic as to what you should be doing or not doing. Many women who are unsuccessful in their IVF treatment often experience feelings of guilt (even though it’s not warranted) and ask many what if questions, because they’re not sure whether their actions during this period caused non-implantation of their embryo.
This guide gives tips about what you should be avoiding and why, but it also includes tips and tricks to try and help minimise that feeling of guilt or ‘what if’ if you are unfortunately unsuccessful.
Our experience after transfer.
You can learn more about our personal IVF journey on our about page. We had a day 3 transfer on our first IVF cycle and a day 5 embryo transfer for our second. Which meant that we had a 11 day and 9 day wait respectively during this time.
Our first IVF cycle was unsuccessful. One of the most emotionally challenging parts of that wait following embryo transfer for us was that I wondered and still do sometimes to this day whether my actions during the two-week wait meant that my embryo’s where less likely to implant.
For those of you more visual people out there check out our video below.
In our first cycle the day after our transfer I was back at home, back to work and in fact, the day after we cleared out the entire spare room. I was lifting and moving heavy boxes and furniture. I just wanted to keep busy to keep my mind occupied, but I will always wonder whether overdoing it, not eating the right things, not exercising enough, or too much may have impacted my chances of implantation and successful IVF cycle. These what if’s and what could have happened if I hadn’t done x.
Because these were such powerful emotions it caused me to do a lot of research about what precautions you can take after your embryo transfer, which led me to write a little about these, some of them are based in evidence and others are more focused upon the peace of mind that you can achieve knowing you did everything you could possibly have done to give you’re little Emby the best chance at implanting.
4 after embryo precautions we recommend based in science
#Tip 1 – Eat a healthy balanced diet.
There is misinformation about many ‘super foods’ which will improve your chances of implantation, these include pineapple, tofu, beans and many others. Now whilst these won’t hurt your chances of a successful cycle, there is little to no evidence of a statistically valid argument that they improve your chances.
Although ensuring you’re eating a balanced and healthy diet including the recommended 7 portions of fruit and vegetables and ensuring your getting a good balance of carbs, proteins and fats will ensure your body has all the energy and nutrition it needs to help implantation
There is clear evidence that alcohol can reduce implantation so stop drinking alcohol whilst you wait. To make this completely clear, a 2011 study of 4,729 cycles showed that those who drank 4 drinks per week through treatment had a 16% reduction in live birth rates. Just abstain from alcohol during your IVF treatment and pregnancy.
High caffeine intake has links with an increased risk of miscarrying in fact this study showed that a 300mg of caffeine you were 39% higher relative risk than the average at having a miscarriage and at 600mg this relative risk was 2.32 times the average. However, a recent study showed that drinking between 1-2 cups of coffee of tea per day had no negative impact upon IVF success rates.
Water has positive benefits at keeping your electrolytes balanced, makes it easier for your kidneys to remove toxins through your urine and helps keeps cells healthy. So, drinking enough but not overdoing it is going to support your chances of successful IVF. We used this awesome BPA free water bottle to keep track of how much water we were drinking throughout the day
#Tip 3 – Reduce your stress and anxiety!
I know this is like asking you to stop breathing, IVF is known to be a time of high stress and anxiety. Unfortunately, though research show’s that stress and anxiety does have an impact upon success rates for IVF treatment. A detailed research article came up with the following results
“anxiety is associated with both pregnancy rate and live birth rate in IVF patients”
“High stress perception is a risk factor for pregnancy outcomes include failed implantation, placentation, spontaneous abortion and preterm delivery”
What does this mean: It means that throughout your IVF treatment and during the two-week wait you need to find ways to relax and reduce your levels of stress. This can take the form of a massage, a nice gentle stroll in your favourite place, reduction of work-related stress.
We found reading about others infertity journeys helped reduce our feelings of isolation and stress, if you, like us, are a book worm then check out the 6 fertility books you MUST read in 2020.
You know you best, so just be sure to schedule in your favourite ways to chill out and relax.
#Tip 4 – Take your progesterone as prescribed by your clinic.
I know this sounds really obvious but it’s so important we wanted to include it. Using your progesterone, whether it is through progesterone in oil (IM injection), a vaginal/anal pessary or a gel you should use it as often as you have been prescribed. This helps maintain a thick lining which will increase your chances of implantation occurring resulting in pregnancy. You can learn more about progesterone in our IVF medication article
4 after embryo transfer precautions to help you reduce those what ifs
#Tip 5 – Take some You time.
In the states there is a lot of ‘advice’ that explicitly talks about bed rest. However, in the UK this isn’t the advice, the advice is to take it easy for about 30 minutes after the transfer then go about normal daily life, but don’t over-do it!
This is very vague what do they mean don’t over do it. Firstly, let me state there is NO evidence which supports either completely resting or exercising and working hard during this period will make any difference to implantation.
We would advise that if you can use some of your annual leave or take a little time off work during this time that’s great, just rest, spend some time watching Netflix or Amazon Prime (now’s a great time to binge watch that series that’s been on your bucket list) leave those big house decorating jobs. Keep up regular daily exercise to keep good blood flow. This is not to do with evidence, but to do with ensuring you feel like you did everything you could.
#Tip 6 – Look into acupuncture.
One of the key reasons why acupuncture is great is that it helps with the stress and anxiety discussed in tip 3. There is some exciting research about the impacts of acupuncture on fertility and IVF which is summarised with links to the relevant sources here. The only caveat is that it looks at acupuncture throughout the IVF cycle and not just after transfer, however it is advised to have a treatment in post transfer phase as part of early luteal support to encourage implantation. We did a full article on this where we interviewed two acupuncture experts on acupuncture for IVF.
Our favourite quote from one of our IVF experts is
“There are many clinical reports that show acupuncture does have a significant effect on improving IVF outcomes. I have attached a report from the British Acupuncture Council that lists some of the findings.”
This one is not so much going to help with implantation, but it will certainly be important if you do get pregnant. It is recommended to take 400 μg of folic acid through your conception journey and throughout pregnancy. So, continue to do this.
A large scale study performed in collaboration between China and the USA showed that having 400 μg of folic acid (which is a B-vitamin) daily reduces neural tube deformities by 85% in high prevalence area’s of China and 41% in normal prevalence found in the USA. So Folic acid is certainly a vital prenatal nutrient.
Tip # 8 – Get out in the Sun.
Vitamin D has been shown to help all elements of fertility and pregnancy it is one of the only other vitamins recommended by fertility specialists. One of the great things is that 30 minutes in the summer sun in the UK gives you your daily recommended daily dose of vitamin D. So, get out there and enjoy any of the sunny days you have during the wait. It is also great for the R&R. If you live in less sunny climates then it is reccomemded that you take a vitamin D supplement.
These are some of the precautions you can take and things you can do to give you the best chance of implantation and those to hopefully stop you wondering what if in the event of a failed cycle. Let us know it you have any tips or precautions which worked for you.
You can learn more about vitamin D and other ways to get vitamin D in our article 7 unusual foods to help improve your fertility
What happens next?
We really have everything crossed that you get what your heart desires…
A BFP (Big Fat Posivive) following your embryo transfer.
We know how hard the two week wait is following the embryo transfer and we want to help as much as possible. If you have any questions at all let us know in the comments and we’ll do our best to help you.
I’m sure you have plenty of other questions and want to read more about this part of IVF so here are some articles we think might be of interest to you.
Don’t underestimate the emotional impacts of IVF – This article looks at how difficult IVF and the TWW can be, where you can find support, is your parnter enough of a support network and when to seek professional help.
A step by step guide to FET (Frozen Embryo Transfer) – From your IVF cycle you may have been lucky enough to get some of your little emby’s frozen. If so take a look at our guide to FET to help prepare you for the next step in the process.
Surviving the Two Week Wait – This could be one of the toughest two weeks of your life, your mind will be racing and you’ll be wondering what every ache, pain and cramp means from your body. These are our key tips to help you survive the TWW
Emotional impacts of an unsuccessful IVF cycle – It can be useful to think about both the possible outcomes of your IVF cycle. This article considers the difficulty of having an unsuccessful IVF cycle and the grief that can come with this.
What happens after a BFP (Big Fat positive) – This is the opposite of the above, what happens when you get the result you want, how will you feel and what happens in the super early stages of pregnancy until your 7 week pregnancy scan when you get to hear that heartbeat.
How long to wait between IVF cycles – This is an area that is often not considered and there are positives and negatives of going back to back or taking a break so have a little think about what’s best for you.
Again best of luck following your embryo transfer, we have everything crossed for you.