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Birla Fertility & IVF
Birla Fertility & IVF

Signs of an embryo transfer: What to expect

  • Published on March 04, 2022
Signs of an embryo transfer: What to expect

Nearly 3 million couples in India actively seek fertility treatments. While Assisted reproductive technology (ART) treatments are effective and give hope to couples, they can also be challenging. The wide array of these treatments and their effects can create a lot of confusion for the patients. One such segment of the treatments is embryo transfer. 

Embryo transfer, briefly put, is the process of implanting a fresh or frozen embryo resulting from fertilisation of the eggs and sperm retrieved from respective partners. 

It is an important step in any fertility treatment where conception is the primary goal. However, like with any course of action, embryo transfer can also have positive or negative impacts affecting your chances of a healthy pregnancy. 

In this article, we will study what the positive, as well as negative signs of an embryo transfer, mean. Let’s get started by learning about the process of embryo transfer. 

 

What is an embryo transfer?

In an ideal IVF treatment, certain hormonal drugs are given to the female partner to stimulate ovulation. Once ovulation is induced, healthy and mature eggs are retrieved. Simultaneously, a semen sample is also collected from the male partner. This semen sample is washed and concentrated to aspirate healthy sperm cells. 

The mature eggs and sperm are then combined and allowed to fertilise in a Petri dish in a carefully monitored environment at an IVF lab. The resulting embryo is allowed to develop 5-6 days after fertilisation. 

Embryo transfer is the last step of an IVF cycle. In this step, your fertility doctor identifies and selects a healthy embryo and implants it in the lining of the uterus. 

Most times, an IVF cycle results in the creation of multiple embryos. There are, hence, two types of embryo transfers – fresh embryo transfer and frozen embryo transfer.

A fresh embryo transfer is when the resulting embryo is transferred after 4-5 days of retrieval. A frozen embryo transfer is one in which the embryo has been previously created and preserved for future pregnancies. When multiple embryos are created in fertilisation, patients have the choice to freeze extra embryos for future pregnancies. 

Also, read about ovulation in hindi

Signs of an embryo transfer 

An IVF pregnancy test is usually done after a 2-week wait from an embryo transfer. This wait can be exhausting for some and take a toll on your mental and physical wellbeing. Hence, understanding the symptoms that are occurring in these two weeks is important. 

Based on the success and failure of the implantation, you are likely to experience varying signs of an embryo transfer. 

 

Positive signs after embryo transfer 

A positive embryo transfer indicates a successful conception meaning that your pregnancy has started. Hence, signs of a positive embryo transfer are somewhat the same as the early signs of pregnancy. After an embryo is implanted in your uterus and pregnancy is induced, you can expect to experience changes in your body. Here are some signs that your embryo transfer has been successful:

  • Pelvic pain and discomfort – You will experience mild to moderate discomfort and cramping in your stomach, pelvis and lower back. These are known as implantation cramping. These symptoms may be similar to menstrual cramps. 
  • Sore and swollen breasts – You can expect certain changes in the areola and nipple area of your breasts. Most women experience some amount of swelling and breast soreness 
  • Fatigue – It is common to feel tired and drowsy throughout the pregnancy. However, you may feel extra tired after an embryo transfer due to the changes in hormonal levels. You will have high levels of tiredness or sleepiness especially after eating a meal. 
  • Nausea and vomiting – In the later stages of an embryo transfer, you can experience slight levels of nausea and even vomiting. Popularly known as morning sickness, these symptoms are usually seen in the early days of pregnancy. 
  • Food aversions – After a successful embryo transfer, it is normal to have aversions to certain food items and smells. 
  • Changes in vaginal discharge – A positive embryo transfer can lead to an increased vaginal discharge due to changes in your hormonal levels. The excess amount of vaginal discharge helps maintain an optimal state for the endometrium for implantation.
  • Spotting or light bleeding – Sometimes, you may also experience light spotting halfway (7 days) through the two weeks. It is known as implantation bleeding. 
  • Increased urge to urinate – hCG pregnancy hormones are injected during the IVF cycle. These hormones can cause frequent urination in women. An increased urge to urinate is also a symptom of pregnancy. 
  • Missed period – Missing your periods after an embryo transfer is a sign of implantation success and highlights that the pregnancy is initiated. 
  • No symptoms – It is also possible for some women to experience no signs of a frozen embryo transfer. Having no symptoms does not mean that your embryo transfer has failed. 

 

Negative signs of embryo transfer 

Negative signs of embryo transfer indicate that the implantation of the embryo has failed. It causes an inability to achieve pregnancy. Negative signs are seen when an embryo fails to implant or attaches itself to the lining of the uterus (endometrium) to form a gestational sac. Implantation failure is considered when a female is unable to achieve pregnancy after at least three IVF cycles. 

Primarily, an absence of the above-given positive signs highlights implantation failure. Please note the above symptoms sometimes also appear due to the hormonal drugs used in the IVF cycle. 

Nonetheless, you should consult your fertility doctor to understand the success or failure of your IVF treatment. It is because a diagnostic pregnancy test is the only reliable measure to establish the results of your embryo transfer. 

Embryo implantation failure can occur due to varied reasons including:

  • Genetic or chromosomal abnormalities
  • Uterine fibroids
  • Scarring or adhesions 
  • Infections or inflammation in the uterus 
  • Premature increase in progesterone levels 
  • Non-receptive endometrial lining 
  • Advanced age of the female partner 
  • Obesity 

Here are some common signs are related to a negative embryo transfer or implantation failure:

  • Chronic pelvic pain 
  • Bowel obstructions 
  • Painful periods 

With an implantation failure, it can be difficult to understand the cause of infertility in couples. It is also similarly difficult to find out whether an implantation failure has occurred during fertility treatment. Your fertility doctor may order the following tests and procedures to help diagnose negative signs of an embryo transfer:

  • Hysteroscopy
  • Endometrial biopsy 
  • Immunomodulation test 
  • Blood tests 
  • Sperm analysis 

If an embryo transfer fails, your fertility doctor will arrange a counselling session to help you understand your condition and the steps to be taken way forward. Implantation failure can be effectively corrected with the following treatment protocols:

  • Blastocyst culture (Embyro transfer at blastocyst stage, that is, day 5 of development) 
  • Preimplantation genetic diagnosis 
  • Assisted hatching 

Besides the above given treatments, your doctor will guide you towards a better lifestyle to boost your chances of conception. 

 

Body changes after embryo transfer

After the embryo transfer, it is normal for a patient to take greater notice of how her body is reacting but it is essential to understand that not every change is due to embryo transfer. 

Post the embryo transfer, it is advised to wait at least 2 weeks before doing a pregnancy test. Around this time, women usually take note of any changes that go on in their bodies and it is completely normal for them to do so. She starts to stress and become a way to anxious and hopeful about every change that happens after the embryo transfer. After IVF transfer symptoms are examined by the medical team after waiting for 2 weeks to check for conception.

What happens on the day of Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET)?

This is the last step of IVF treatment. In this step, a fertility expert transfers the selected embryo with the help of a tiny catheter and places it carefully in the woman’s uterus for conception. 

FET is one of the advanced fertility techniques to improve the chances of a successful pregnancy. In addition, it is a minimally invasive method in which the female does not really feel intense pain during the procedure. 

The whole procedure is carried out by using ultrasound technology. The fertility expert gets access to the uterus with the help of sonography. It benefits in avoiding the catheter touching the cervix and placing the embryo specifically in the inner lining of the uterus.

 

7 days after embryo transfer symptoms

After the formation of embryo, the only step that is left is transferring the embryo in the uterus. The process includes placing the embryos in the female with the hope of conception.  It includes the placement of the embryo or embryos in the uterus of a female willing to be a mother. Expert uses ultrasound scan in a guided way to ensure the success of embryo transfer.

Below are some signs to consider to assess embryo transfer after 7 days :

  1. Bleeding- Two to three days after embryo transfer, the patient might experience slight spots of bleeding. Slight bleeding might be the result of the channeling via the cervix.
  2. Vaginal discharge- There might be changes in vaginal discharge. The patient might experience a significant increase in the amount of vaginal discharge.
  3. Breast changes- After the completion of the embryo transfer, you might see some changes in the breast with each passing day. Changes in the breast are quite normal in women after the embryo transfer.
  4. Nausea- Women who are pregnant will and might have nausea, but women who have undergone IVF treatment will not feel nausea unless pregnant. So, look out for the signs if you feel nausea.
  5. Fatigue- It’s possible that your level of fatigue will rise. You experience it as a result of an increase in the hormone progesterone. In this stage, a pregnancy develops in order to preserve the uterine lining, which is where the embryo transplant is carried out. If you plan to have an embryo transfer, you must take progesterone supplements.
  6. Frequent urination- Your doctor will give you hCG, a hormone that promotes pregnancy, during the embryo transfer procedure. Your blood and urine both contain more of this hormone right after the embryo transfer is finished. As a result, you could feel the need to urinate frequently and experience an inclination to do so.

 

Is It Normal To Have No Symptoms After an Embryo Transfer?

Yes, it is very normal to not have any symptoms after an embryo transfer. Every persons body is different and how the treatment responds to every individual’s body will also differ. So, it is common for a woman to have zero symptoms after the embryo transfer and still have a positive pregnancy. This is because, there are many symptoms that appear due to the presence of estrogen and progesterone intake in the form of supplements that are given to the patient during the IVF treatment. There are patients who do not see any symtoms even after waiting for 2 whole weeks. In conclusion, the only surefire way to determine whether your embryo transfer was successful is a positive pregnancy test.

 

Factors affecting your IVF success

If you have experienced an implantation failure, you should not lose hope. After consulting with your fertility doctor, you can try again to achieve successful results of an IVF cycle. 

The success of your embryo transfer will depend on the following factors:

  • Quality of the embryo 
  • Uterine health 
  • No. of eggs retrieved 
  • Quality and quantity of sperm cells 
  • Age of the female partner 

The Concluding Note 

Frozen embryo transfer success is an important milestone in your IVF treatment. You are likely to feel a range of signs and symptoms based on whether the implantation has occurred or not. In both cases, you should consult your fertility doctor and gain a better understanding of the process. 

Consult Birla Fertility & IVF Specialists to learn more about embryo transfer and its effects. 

 

FAQs

How soon after embryo transfer do you feel symptoms?

You can expect to feel symptoms after nearly 2 weeks of an embryo transfer. 

How can you tell if your embryo has been implanted?

Positive signs after embryo transfer include light spotting, abdominal cramps or pain, nausea, sore breasts, headaches, and mood swings.

How do you know when implantation has failed?

The following negative signs of embryo transfer occur after failed implantation – changes in the tendency to smell, breast tenderness, and abdominal cramping.

How does the embryo get nourishment inside the mother’s body?

The embryo derives its nourishment from the mother’s body through the placenta. 

Written by:
Dr Shreya Gupta

Dr Shreya Gupta

Dr Shreya Gupta is an experienced OBGYN in Lucknow with close to 10 years of clinical experience. Her friendly patient oriented approach and thorough knowledge in reproductive medicine makes her a stellar addition in our growing fertility team. She completed her MBBS from GSVM Medical College, Kanpur and her MD (Obstetrics & Gynaecology) from KGMC Lucknow. Thereafter she completed her DNB (Obstetrics & Gynaecology) and FNB (Reproductive Medicine) from Ruby Hall Clinic, Pune.   

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