Causes & Treatment

Fresh / Frozen Embryo Transfers & Pregnancy Signs – What You Need to Know by URE Centro Gutenberg

Eloise Edington  |   10 Dec 2020



Whether you’re preparing for a fresh or frozen embryo transfer, it’s a daunting time, with so much at stake and so many uncertainties. It can feel like a roll of the dice, let’s face it. For this reason, we’ve turned to our expert partner fertility specialists at Ure Centro Gutenberg, Spain, to find out what to expect from an embryo transfer, and the common questions that many patients have.

Over to URE Centro Gutenberg | @urecentrogutenberg

That moment that all fertility patients (who undergo assisted reproduction treatment) anxiously wait for has finally arrived. It’s the last step before entering into the well-known phase called the ‘Two Week Wait’ (2WW). This last phase in the IVF treatment cycle is of course the all-important embryo transfer (fresh or frozen). The embryo transfer consists of depositing the embryo(s), obtained during culture, inside the uterine cavity. It is a process that is performed by a fertility specialist in the operating theatre, in order to maintain stable environmental conditions, and is guided by an abdominal ultrasound and often without anaesthesia. During this fertility procedure you will always be accompanied by a fertility specialist, an embryologist and a nurse, as we know that this is an extremely important moment for you. So, we would like to summarise the most common questions that tend to come up at our fertility clinic. These are questions that patients like you ask us at URE Centro Gutenberg, so let’s answer them!

Related Article – Introducing URE Centro Gutenberg – Spain’s Innovative Fertility Clinic


Is the Embryo Transfer Painful?

Not at all! It’s a painless outpatient procedure and doesn’t require any anaesthesia. Patients tend to say that it is even less uncomfortable than a gynaecological check‑up.

How Long does an Embryo Transfer Last?

Although it’s a delicate procedure, the embryo transfer doesn’t usually take more than ten minutes. Afterwards, the patient will stay in the operating theatre, for an additional ten minutes. Once she’s left the operating theatre the patient will then proceed to a recovery room and can either rest a bit longer or go home directly.

Do I need to Rest after the Embryo Transfer?

Resting following this procedure has not been shown to improve results. That being said, at our fertility clinic in Spain we recommend staying relatively relaxed the day of the embryo transfer; this recommendation is not to prevent an undesired outcome, but rather for the patient’s peace of mind.

Can I be Sexually Active after?

Just as with the question about whether or not rest is necessary, there are no studies that show that intercourse reduces or increases the chances of pregnancy following an embryo transfer. Even so, we recommend abstaining from intercourse at least until after the patient has taken the pregnancy test. This is especially true for women who have undergone ovarian stimulation, as the ovaries will have increased in size and the risk of ovarian torsion is thus greater.

Related Article – The Grief of Having my Frozen Embryo Transfer Cancelled Thanks to Coronavirus


Is it Normal to Bleed following an Embryo Transfer (Fresh / Frozen)?

Yes, and this is what worries patients the most, as many women confuse this bleeding with menstruation. However, this bleeding is common, as certain blood vessels in the endometrium (womb lining) must break in order for embryo implantation to take place. This is the only way that new blood vessels will be able to form and provide the embryo with everything it needs to properly develop. But this bleeding, called ‘implantation bleeding’, does not always happen. It may go by unnoticed or might just be perceived as spotting, that is lighter than a period. The important thing to know is how to tell the difference – implantation bleeding is light and generally pinkish or brown in colour.

If this happens, at URE Centro Gutenberg we always advise you to call the phone number that your fertility specialist provided you with, to obtain more information and take any necessary measures, depending on the type of bleed.

Can I Swim and Take Baths after?

This question is quite common in the summertime when the pool and beach form part of our day‑to‑day activities. We recommend that you avoid submerging yourself in water at the beach/pool, as well as in the bathtub, for the first four or five days following the embryo transfer. This is mainly due to the medication that you will take, as it’s used vaginally, but it is also to prevent possible infections.

What Medication Can I Take after?

Initially you will need to take the IVF medication prescribed to you by your fertility specialist on the day of the embryo transfer. Apart from this, if something happens and you need to take additional medication, we always recommend calling and checking with us at URE Centro Gutenberg. This way, your doctor can decide what the ideal treatment is, depending on what you need.

Should I Watch the Types of Food I Eat after?

We always recommend leading a healthy lifestyle, including a healthy and balanced diet. This of course includes the recommendation of avoiding habits that are harmful to fertility, such as smoking or consuming alcohol. Recent studies published in leading fertility journals have found a relationship between a decline in female fertility and certain foods, such as junk food and sugar. Coffee is another food that we recommend cutting back on when a patient begins fertility treatment. This doesn’t mean that you should avoid it entirely, but it’s advisable to cut back to a maximum of two cups of coffee daily.

Can I Exercise Following the Embryo Transfer?

It is best to avoid intense physical activities that require strenuous exercise. Apart from this, carrying out any physical activity will be beneficial to your health and, as a result, to your fertility. Many patients have told us that exercise was an essential part of overcoming the stressful days leading up to the pregnancy test.

Related Article – How To Prepare for an Embryo Transfer


Signs of IVF Success and Pregnancy

After your embryo transfer or a cycle of artificial insemination, it’s completely normal to be on the lookout for any symptoms that might indicate a long-awaited pregnancy. That’s why at URE Centro Gutenberg, we want to talk to you about the early symptoms that suggest that embryo implantation has taken place. But there’s one very important thing to keep in mind: each patient is unique, meaning that the absence of these signs doesn’t mean that the result is going to be negative, just as their presence doesn’t mean there’s going to be a successful pregnancy following IVF.

Here is what to lookout for…

  1. Aversion to certain smells and/or foods – Don’t be alarmed if you start to have cravings for something you’ve never liked. Or, just the opposite, if you suddenly stop liking your partner’s cologne. This is normal! Hormonal changes during pregnancy can increase sensitivity to smells, and sometimes it’s extreme. Examples? One patient recently told us that she craved… spoonfuls of vinegar!

  2. Increase in size and sensitivity of breasts – Another common symptom during pregnancy, due to changes in hormones, may be noticeable in your chest: your breasts become more sensitive and increase slightly in size.

  3. Increased tiredness – This is also due to the hormonal changes taking place in your body following embryo implantation. You’ll feel more tired, more fatigued…This means that if it’s 9 o’clock at night and you’re already falling asleep, don’t worry. It’s because of the hormones!

  4. Vaginal bleeding – As mentioned above (in ‘Is it normal to bleed following an embryo transfer?’), this is one of the symptoms that usually frightens our patients the most, which makes sense, as bleeding can be confused with menstruation. This bleeding however, has an explanation: in order for the embryo to attach to your womb lining, certain blood vessels in the endometrium (womb lining) must break to form new ones, thus allowing the embryo to obtain everything it needs during development. This vaginal bleeding does not always happen, nor is it the same for all women. In some cases it may hardly be noticeable, whilst in others, it may seem like a menstrual cycle. The important thing is to know how to tell the difference for your peace of mind, as this bleeding is light and generally pinkish or brown (as mentioned above).

  5. Abdominal pains – Just like in the previous example, this is a symptom that usually scares future mothers. This is due to the fact that these pains are similar to those that appear during menstruation, so many patients think that their fertility treatment has not been successful. You should be aware however, that these pains are normal and are generally caused by the uterus, which is growing and changing position.

  6. Frequent urge to urinate – This feeling of discomfort is caused by an increase in progesterone, which leads to higher blood flow to the kidneys. As a result your bladder fills more quickly, meaning you’ll need to pay more visits to the restroom.

  7. Mood swings – This is one of the symptoms which most greatly varies from woman to woman: in some women mood swings are extremely intense, whilst others only notice mild changes. Don’t be alarmed if you feel euphoric one moment and sad the next, or vice versa. This is part of the change that your body is going through!

  8. Abdominal bloating and/or constipation – These are some of the unpleasant symptoms also caused by the increase in progesterone. What happens here is that this hormone slows down movement in the intestines, thus resulting in constipation and, quite often, discomfort such as heartburn and the dreaded morning sickness.

In Summary

As we mentioned at the beginning of this article, it is very important to remember that the absence of symptoms does not mean that you’re not pregnant. Some women experience much more intense symptoms, while others barely notice any special changes to their body.

In addition, also bear in mind that some symptoms, such as abdominal bloating, constipation and tiredness, could be the result of the hormone medication taken for fertility treatment, specifically the progesterone support that your fertility specialist has recommended to aid embryo implantation.

Corona certainly does not put our process on hold, we’re very much here helping make babies.

We love hearing from you, so if you have any questions and would like to learn more about any assisted reproduction treatment or how we work at URE Centro Gutenberg today and can help you, then please drop us a message. We will study your personal situation and recommend the best options, during a free online consultation.

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