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Embryo Glue: The 5 Secrets Everyone Should Know Post-Embryo Transfer

There may be no more anxiety-ridden interval than the time between the embryo transfer and the first pregnancy test. Simply stated, it is sort of terrible. Those nine days can feel like nine years. Every symptom you feel (or don’t feel) can take your mind to places you didn’t think it was possible to go. However, while the rollercoaster of emotions is real, the good news is that you are not alone. Nearly every woman who has come before you and every woman who will come after you find the time between the transfer and the pregnancy test to be incredibly stressful. Here are five tips on how to best deal with your emotions during the transfer-to-test interval.

  1. Movement: Standing up after the embryo transfer is finished ranks up there on many women’s top 10 list of scariest activities while going through fertility treatment. The “if I move these embryos are going to fall out sensation” is super common, but it isn’t super credible. In fact, there is absolutely NO medical evidence to show that movement, be it in the form of a trip to the ladies room or a bumpy car ride home, will negatively impact your chances of pregnancy. Don’t sideline yourself just because you had an embryo transfer.  Movement won’t be the factor that makes or brakes the pregnancy.
  2. Diet: Food gets a lot of credit and a lot of flak when it comes to fertility. Pineapples will make your embryo stick, and hot dogs will make your embryos not stick. And although who doesn’t love a sweet pineapple in the middle of July, there is no evidence that food will improve or harm your chances of pregnancy. Bottom line, don’t lose sleep over what you have and have not taken in—your “intake” will not impact if your embryo takes up a permanent spot in your uterus.
  3. Exercise: There may be no more controversial words than exercise and fertility. These two engender A LOT of emotions. And while it may seem like it from what you hear and what you read, in reality exercise and fertility are by no means oil and water. Exercise—be it walking, running, cycling, or swimming—is not a no no post-transfer. While you may have to curtail your specific activity based on if you had a fresh or frozen embryo transfer, breaking a sweat won’t break your chances of pregnancy.  We do usually recommend a 48-hour period of relaxation after the transfer—but after that, most forms of exercise are okay. Just touch base with your doctor.   We will say, for those of you who will look back and blame yourself if the transfer does not work, we recommend you don’t engage in any activity that will make you think twice.  We can tell you there is no sound data to suggest moderate exercise after an embryo transfer will lower implantation rates, but we want you to have zero regrets!
  4. Coffee: Don’t say sayonara to Starbucks just because you had an embryo transfer. Coffee is not the culprit for your infertility and is cool (or hot!) post-transfer. While you should taper the amount of caffeine you ingest (<200mg/day), you can continue to indulge your caffeine kick.
  5. Stress: It’s nearly impossible not to count down the days from the transfer to the pregnancy test. The anxiety, anticipation, and stress mount as the time between these two events is minimized. These emotions are totally normal. Everyone has them. Engaging in activities that can help alleviate your stress is recommended but not mandatory  (although de-stressing will do your mind good, it won’t make a difference on the outcome of the transfer). On the flip side, if you can’t take your stress level below a 10 no matter what you do, don’t freak out. Stress post-transfer has not been demonstrated to decrease the chances of pregnancy.  

It’s important to always remember that whether you DO or DO NOT get pregnant, post-embryo transfer has to do with the quality of the embryo, the genetics of the embryo, and your uterine lining—not what you DID or DID NOT do. Unfortunately, you can live your best you and still not get pregnant. And while we don’t have all the answers for what makes some transfers work and others not, we promise to keep searching for that evasive “embryo glue”—and if we find it, we won’t keep it a secret!

The Five Best Ways to Prepare for the Embryo Transfer

The big day is finally here! After days and likely months of planning, you are ready to walk down that aisle—with your embryo. You are probably anxious, excited, scared, nervous, and overwhelmed all at the same time. This ball of emotions can become a snowball of negative energy if you don’t know how best to prepare for the main event. Here are five tips to prepare for the embryo transfer.

  1. Hydrate.
    The bladder and the uterus are very tight. They run in the same circles at all times. We ask you to fill your bladder because it not only allows us to see the uterus with more clarity but also can change the angle of the cervix and uterus (# make the transfer easier!). And while we, too, are type A perfectionists who err on the side of doing more rather than less, we recommend underfilling rather than overfilling your bladder. Overfilled bladders can be uncomfortable and cause your muscles to contract, making the transfer more difficult. And one last word of bladder advice: if you do lose it and let some urine out on the table, don’t worry. You aren’t the first and certainly won’t be the last!
  2. Hear, but don’t listen to the doctor doing the transfer.
    No, we did not write that backwards. We want you to hear the information we give you about the embryo quality, but limit how much you take in. Patients often want to know every detail about embryo grade, embryo quality, embryo survival, and everything else in between. While you should be educated and you should know what’s up, obsessing over your grades in this classroom won’t help. You couldn’t have studied anymore. At this point, it is what it is. There will always be time with the “teacher” in the future to break down the cycle if it doesn’t work!
  3. Valium is a very good thing.
    Valium is not a villain. If you are a ball of nerves or the speculum is Public Enemy #1, taking something to calm you down before the transfer is a good idea. It won’t hurt your chances and might even help.
  4. Keep your eyes on the prize.
    You will be asked to identify your name, your partner’s name, and even your embryo before the transfer is performed. Make sure that the doctor, the nursing staff, and the embryologist identify you. While the endless checkpoints will feel like O’Hare on a bad day, they are not set up to be annoying but to be extra cautious.
  5. Make sure your plus one is one with positive energy.
    There is no rule as to whom you have to bring with you on transfer day. In fact, given that you don’t get anesthesia, you don’t need an escort home. Most women like to bring someone along with them. Whoever you pick, whether it is your plus one, your parent, or your pal you want to make sure they are exuding lots of positive energy. You don’t need any Nelly Negatives around on this day.

No matter how hard you try, you can’t control what happens over the next 48 hours; after a transfer, embryo (s) will bounce around for about 48 hours before it/they implant. Those guys and/or gals are either going to find some good real estate and set up shop or not. If they don’t, try to remember that it was nothing that you did or didn’t do, nothing that you said or didn’t say, and nothing that you ate or didn’t eat. You covered all of your bases. If you don’t hit it out of the park this time, you can take another swing soon.