The 2-week wait
Although a woman may not experience many physical changes during the first 2 weeks after conception, a lot is happening within the body. After the fertility team inserts the embryo into the uterus, the future baby will work to implant into the uterine wall and establish a blood connection with the mom. Shortly thereafter, the placenta is created. This temporary organ releases human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) to support the pregnancy. The HCG hormone is what a pregnancy test detects to confirm a baby is on board.
Jumping the gun
Although many IVF patients may be eager to test sooner than 2 weeks, this practice is typically discouraged. Testing too soon can result in a false negative as the embryo has not started to produce enough HCG yet for a pregnancy test to detect. A negative test can result in feelings of distress and sadness when the reality is much more positive. Another reason early testing is not recommended for IVF patients is because HCG is sometimes used right before the embryo transfer for women undergoing egg retrieval during the same cycle. Also known as a trigger shot, HCG helps mature eggs release for collection. A pregnancy test can’t differentiate between the HCG used as a trigger shot and the HCG produced by the baby, so women are encouraged to wait to test until the HCG shot is out of the system.
Two weeks later
Approximately 4 weeks after the first day of the last menstrual period (LMP) or 2 weeks after transfer, a pregnancy test can be used. This is when a woman with a regular 28-day cycle would typically miss a period and when enough HCG is being produced to be detected in the urine. Pregnancy tests can be purchased over-the-counter (OTC) and are thought to be about 99% accurate when used at the 2-week mark. Patients undergoing IVF will also likely have blood work done at this point to confirm the pregnancy and obtain more precise HCG measurements.
Stay mentally strong
Although 2 weeks can feel like forever when waiting to confirm a pregnancy, in the grand scheme of things, this short window will be over in no time. Although most women will not experience many physical symptoms during this wait, the mental effects can be challenging. Women can stay mentally strong by not testing early and not reading into every possible symptom as a probable sign of pregnancy. Fertility patients should follow the doctor’s instructions for when to return to the clinic for blood work to confirm the pregnancy.