During an embryo transfer, an embryo or embryos are released into the cavity of the womb with the use of a very thin tube, called embryo transfer catheter, that passes through the vagina and the cervix. The lining of the womb undergoes changes to receive the embryo(s). These changes are driven by hormones that are either produced naturally or administered via medication depending on the type of treatment.
We get lots of questions about embryo transfer, and whether there’s anything you can do around this time to increase your chances of a healthy pregnancy. Here are some of the most frequently asked:
What should I eat to help implantation?
Evidence supports the positive effect of a balanced, healthy diet on conception and pregnancy.
As a general advice, a woman trying to conceive should follow a diet suitable for pregnancy: lots of fruit and vegetables (always wash well any vegetables that will be eaten raw), good sources of fibre, complex carbohydrates, and protein. Like in pregnancy, avoid high risk foods like unpasteurised cheeses and those fish associated with heavy metal content, such as shark and marlin.
It’s also important to maintain a good intake of calcium and other vitamins and minerals. You should ensure you have a balanced intake of essential nutrients. You can talk to your doctor or Apricity advisor who can give dietary advice or recommend supplements if you’re concerned about meeting your nutritional needs during your treatment and beyond.
It’s important to stay hydrated throughout the IVF process, and especially in these early stages of implantation and pregnancy. Drinking plenty of water – around two litres, though this includes other liquids in your diet – is always recommended.
Can I exercise after embryo transfer?
We recommend that you avoid strenuous activity around the time of embryo transfer. There is no evidence to support total bed rest to improve implantation rates and total bed rest is associated with other health risks. You can return to your normal day-to-day life, but being mindful that you should take it a little easy, give yourself a break, and get enough rest and relaxation.
The two-week wait between embryo transfer and a pregnancy test is a time for you to look after yourself. Fertility treatment can be physically and emotionally stressful and the fast pace of modern life can be stressful enough already. Excessive stress can have an adverse effect on fertility and health in general and so it’s important to try and relax in whatever way suits you and as much as possible. Yoga, meditation and mindfulness techniques can be very helpful.
Very hot baths, saunas and steam rooms, or any activities which significantly raise your core temperature are NOT recommended.
Your doctor or Apricity advisor can make additional recommendations tailored to your case.
Is there anything I should take after the embryo transfer?
You should have a comprehensive plan for the medication you need to take throughout your treatment. You should continue to take any medications as advised by your Apricity advisor, including luteal support drugs and folic acid.
At your initial appointments, you’d have been asked about any other medications you already take, and your consultant will have given you advice about whether any of your medications can affect IVF treatment, conception or pregnancy.
People often ask about taking pain medication We recommend that you only take paracetamol at the recommended dose and not on a long-term basis unless you have discussed it with your doctor. Your Apricity advisor is on hand to discuss specific medications.
Can embryos fall out immediately after transfer?
No! Once they’re in place in your womb, it’s up to them to implant and grow.
Are there any preferred sleeping positions following embryo transfer?
There’s no evidence to show that any sleeping position is better than any other for embryo implantation. The embryo is transferred when your womb is ready, when the lining is soft and thick and ideal for an embryo to implant. You can lie however you like – just get comfy.
When can I have sex again?
It may be the last thing on your mind, or it may not… either way, the current advice is generally to abstain throughout the two-week period after transfer. Opinion is divided on this, but as vaginal intercourse can trigger uterine contractions, we recommend that you avoid it at this stage.
I’m having some pain/spotting… has something gone wrong?
It’s not unusual to experience some light spotting after the transfer procedure and during implantation. Some people also have some crampy pains or feel bloated. We see these symptoms a lot, and they don’t appear to correlate with the IVF being successful or unsuccessful. If you are having heavy bleeding, severe pains, or any other symptoms which you feel are not right, we’re on hand and can give you personalised advice about what might be happening.
Going through fertility treatment can be stressful, and sometimes the process can feel out of your control. It’s very natural to want to do whatever you can to help, and the best way to do that is to concentrate on looking after yourself. The best advice is common sense: eat healthily, avoid cigarette smoke, exercise gently, and try some relaxation techniques. You don’t need to confine yourself to bed, but you should go easy on yourself, as you’re going through a lot – both physically and emotionally.
Although you should do everything you can to stay healthy and relaxed, remember that it’s not your fault if it doesn’t work this time. Lots of things can affect the success rate of IVF, and although it’s natural to look for reasons when things don’t go as planned, it’s really mostly out of your control at this point - be kind to yourself!
Remember, your Apricity advisor is on hand, in the UK only, seven days a week for advice and support. We’d rather you shared your worries and asked all the questions you want, so you’re never alone.
If you’re interested in getting started with Apricity, use the link below to book a free call with a fertility advisor at a time that suits you.Book a free call