It’s a loaded phrase and often the hardest part of anyone’s fertility treatment. Read on to find out all about the 2 week wait, what it means and how to navigate the wait to see if your treatment with us has been successful…
The two week wait is the period of time from your IUI or embryo transfer until you do a blood test at our Dublin fertility clinic to check if you are pregnant or not. It takes about two weeks from the time an embryo implants to start emitting enough of the hormone HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) to be detected by a blood test. The blood test – which is called a beta hCG blood test – detects HCG and is the most accurate indication of pregnancy.
We recommend that you wait for the beta test to confirm if you are pregnant or not. An at home pregnancy test can give false results, either a false negative or false positive.
A false positive result may be due to the fact that in many treatments, HCG, the same hormone that measures pregnancy, is given to “trigger” ovulation. Traces of HCG may still be in your bloodstream and detectable by a test even if implantation has not occurred. Waiting for two weeks will ensure that the trigger injection is no longer in your system.
A false negative might occur as a low level of HCG may be undetectable in a urine test despite a pregnancy starting as these are less sensitive than the blood hormone tests through our clinic.
As you can imagine, a false negative or false positive result can be incredibly upsetting and that’s why we recommend waiting for the official blood test.
During this time, you may feel as if you are about to start your period. Your body has been through a lot and the medications you have taken are designed to promote the perfect environment for pregnancy. In short, you will probably ‘feel’ pregnant. For many this includes cramping, spotting or light bleeding, abdominal bloating, fatigue, and breast tenderness. This is all completely normal and is not an indication that you are or are not pregnant.
However, if after your treatment you feel excessive bloating, shortness of breath, chest pain, or lower abdominal pains, you may have a complication called ovarian hyperstimulation and should call our Thérapie Fertility team or your other health care provider immediately.
Yes, you need to continue with your prescribed medication until indicated otherwise. The medications most people will be prescribed are progesterone and/or estrogen.
Progesterone supplements are used so that you produce the same levels of hormones that would occur in the early stages of pregnancy. While most patients will supplement their progesterone via vaginal pessary, you can also use an injectable form of progesterone. Most patients prefer the pessaries, though they can cause some people vaginal irritation and so it’s good to have a couple of options.
Patients who undergo IVF, donor egg (Reciprocal IVF) or frozen embryo transfers may also be prescribed estrogen supplements to help thicken and maintain the uterine lining.
Even if you think you are not pregnant, never stop taking the medication until you are asked to by one of our team members.
For the first week after your treatment we would recommend that you refrain from strenuous physical activities (as well as sexual activities) as they may cause uterine contractions that could potentially interfere with the implantation of an embryo.
However there is no need to surround yourself with cotton wool! You are free to go about your normal activities. It’s good to keep yourself occupied with easy exercise such as walking and gentle swimming and to also be mindful of your mental health. This is an uncertain time and surrounding yourself with your loved ones and positivity will go a long way to passing the time.
The advice we would give is to eat and drink as though you are pregnant. This obviously means avoiding alcohol and taking the recommended prenatal vitamins and supplements such as folic acid. No special diet is required for pregnancy, but it’s advised to choose nutritious meals while avoiding sushi or other raw or undercooked meats, high-mercury fish such as tuna and certain soft cheeses.
Travelling is not shown to have an adverse effect on the ability of an embryo to implant. However we would always advise our patients to remain close to home, so that medical care can be given should any side effects of treatment arise. Travel can also be stressful on the body and mind, and it’s always best to keep the two week wait as stress free as possible.
To be very honest, there is no ‘magic number’. If you have an appropriate level of HCG, further blood tests will be taken at our Dublin clinic to ensure that the number continues to increase. As a rough guide, the number should be doubling every 48 hours or so. However this can vary dramatically depending on the individual and sometimes even a ‘low’ HCG can result in a healthy pregnancy. Contrary to popular belief, a very high number doesn’t mean that it’s twins or a multiple pregnancy. Only an ultrasound can determine that.
If your pregnancy is confirmed via the beta blood test, we will then have you come in for an ultrasound to determine if the embryo has continued to develop into a fetus. Once this is confirmed, you will usually be discharged from Thérapie Fertility and back into the care of your GP and maternity hospital of choice.
As soon as your pregnancy is confirmed, we will use the same dating system as an maternity hospital to determine the gestational age. Pregnancy is dated going by a person’s last menstrual period… at least 2 weeks prior to ovulation. So even if you get your positive beta test two weeks after your IUI or embryo transfer, you will be considered to be 4 weeks pregnant or thereabouts. To put this into perspective, your first early ultrasound will be at around 6-7 weeks gestation, which is roughly 4-5 weeks from your treatment date.
If you aren’t successful, you will be advised to stop your medications. You will have the opportunity to talk with your doctor to review the past cycle and make a decision together about your next steps. At this time, counselling can also be an option in order to process the disappointment.
It is not always necessary to take time off between cycles though some may wish to have some time in between cycles. It is very much a personal decision and something which you can decide in conjunction with your doctor.