Infertility, and going through fertility treatment, is an emotional roller coaster filled with a ton of information, diagnostic tests, procedures, medications, and an entire team of specialists keeping you well and on course.
If you’ve just started with IVF, it can be a really exciting time where your hopes and dreams of having a healthy baby are finally becoming a reality. You’ve set the wheels in motion: you have your team in place, a thorough diagnosis, and an excellent, individualized, whole-person fertility plan.
After the first course of IVF, patients are understandably on pins and needles during the following weeks, wondering if their treatment has been successful. The urge to use over-the-counter pregnancy tests is strong, but they’re not always accurate. It’s important to take some deep breaths and wait for accurate testing.
hCG and False Positive Pregnancy Tests
The Human Chorionic Gonadotropin, known as hCG or “the pregnancy hormone,” is a hormone that is naturally produced during pregnancy. In a naturally-occurring pregnancy, the hCG level will double every 72 hours and will reach its peak by the first 8-11 weeks of pregnancy. The hCG level can first be detected at around 11 days after conception through a blood test and 12-14 days by a urine test. After 11 weeks, the level of hCG begins to decline and continues to decline for the remainder of the pregnancy.
But if hCG was used during your IVF treatment to stimulate ovulation, it can give false-positive pregnancy test results if using over-the-counter pregnancy tests. During IVF, women are injected with the hCG in order to stimulate egg production. The two popular brands of these hormones are called Pregnyl and Novarel.
If hCG was used as part of your first IVF protocol, the injections disrupt the production of normal hCG. The hormone will still be present in the body during an early over-the-counter pregnancy test, even though you may not be pregnant.
Your fertility team will inform you about all of the medications you’ll be using during your treatment, and if hCG will be used. They will closely monitor all of your medications, and are the best ones to diagnose your pregnancy by using an ultrasound and a blood test.
The Two Week Wait
The most stressful part of IVF can be the two week wait between the end of your first IVF cycle and your pregnancy test. This two-week wait can often be filled with doubts and worry. A lot of women question if the treatment was successful, and if the symptoms they’re feeling are related to a successful pregnancy.
Symptoms may also occur that can be confusing and could be related to several causes. You may feel tired, bloated or nauseated. You may have sensitive breasts, cramping, spotting or light bleeding. You can experience some or all of these symptoms even if you’re not pregnant. They can be a side effect of the fertility medications taken during your IVF cycle.
For some women, there are no symptoms at all, even though they are, in fact, pregnant. Therefore, it’s a good idea not to read too much into any mild symptoms you’re having during this 2-week wait.
A lot of women are scared when they experience cramping since they feel that the cycle has failed. Mild cramping and pelvic discomfort are common experiences during this stage. If the cramping becomes too severe and accompanied by heavy bleeding, it is best to contact your doctor right away. Severe cramping accompanied by the feeling of nausea is a possible sign of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) or ovarian torsion. These conditions need medical attention right away.
Your fertility team will be in constant communication with you during your waiting period and will offer you support, encouragement and information. Questions that you may have about resuming physical activity, including sexual intercourse, should be discussed with your team. How much bed rest you should have, whether stress levels will affect the chance of pregnancy are common questions after IVF, and ones your team can help to answer, based on your individual case. Clear communication with your team can help to keep you calm and stress-free during your wait.
Your Two-Week Pregnancy Test is Positive! What Happens Next
You’ve survived your two-week wait, and the pregnancy test is positive. The next step is the ultrasound, which is done after five weeks. This means two more weeks of waiting to fully confirm a healthy pregnancy.
Your 6-week ultrasound will most likely be performed endovaginally. Another possibility is an external ultrasound, performed externally on your abdomen. A full bladder is necessary for a good reading of this type of ultrasound, so you may be advised to drink lots of fluids before your procedure. This helps your organs to move out of the way during the ultrasound so the technician can get the best picture. A lubricating gel is applied on your lower abdomen and the ultrasound transducer glides across the belly. This is a very exciting time, because it may mean the very first glimpse of your baby!
During this waiting period, it’s vitally important to continue to take the very best care of your whole self that you can. Keep breathing, stay calm, and take advantage of our comprehensive services like meditation, yoga, massage, therapy sessions and spiritual counseling. These will help you transition through this stressful time, and your team is always available for support, guidance and information.
About Reproductive Health Wellness Center
IVF Treatment in Orange County, CA
Women’s Egg Freezing Studio in Orange County, CA
Reproductive Health Wellness Center is the first center in Southern California that has a mission to provide the best quality of care not only through state-of-the-art technologies but also through a steadfast commitment to the reproductive wellness of our patients. Our patients have an impressive 70% pregnancy rate due to our innovative approach, combining the leading technology and the latest scientific research that focuses on the wellness of the whole person – body, mind, and spirit. For more information on our innovative infertility treatments contact us or call (949) 516-0606 for a consultation.