There is no doubt that going through the IVF process is a stressful and emotional rollercoaster. But even after being poked and prodded, injected, examined and operated on, the final hurdle is by far the biggest challenge to take on
For those who have not yet experienced what will probably be the hardest fortnight of your life, let us introduce you to the two-week wait. The stage in your fertility journey when all the procedures and treatments have taken place and your precious embryo has been placed safely back inside your uterus, and there is nothing more you can do other than wait for the results.
Every day you will be monitoring and analysing how you feel and whether there are any early signs of pregnancy, desperately hoping for signals which show that your treatment has worked. Those 15 days can be an emotional roller coaster and seem to drag on for eternity.
We spoke to the brilliant Michael Kyriakidis a gynecologist specializing in reproductive medicine and assisted reproduction.from Embryolab about the dreaded two-week wait and what it means for your physical and mental health as you come towards the end of your IVF cycle…
“The embryo transfer represents the completion of your treatment. All your efforts are concentrated in a couple of minutes where your embryos will meet their future home. It also marks the beginning of a waiting period that can be very demanding both emotionally as well as physically. Inevitably, this raises several questions. What should a woman do during these two weeks and what should she avoid.”
What about my diet? Can I eat whatever I want?
“Well, actually, a healthy diet can be the foundation of a good result. The waiting period is a very good opportunity to improve your dietary choices. During this time you should add fresh fruit and vegetables to your diet and increase your protein intake by adding fresh fish and poultry. Don’t forget to include at least eight glasses of water and some multi-vitamin juice.”
Should I avoid alcohol completely?
“Alcohol can be very harmful to your embryos. There are several reports that associate alcohol consumption during pregnancy with severe congenital abnormalities, behavioral problems and low intelligence. Your embryo transfer is a good chance to stop alcohol all together.”
Should I rest or can I be active?
“The waiting time for your pregnancy test can be very stressful. By staying at home, always lying in your bed, you only increase your stress levels. Average activities are recommended during this time. Going for a small walk or meeting a friend will help you release the stress and will give you the chance to socialise. On the other hand, excessive exercise and heavy lifting is not beneficial. So avoid extremities.”
Can I go swimming in the sea or in a swimming pool?
“Swimming can be a very pleasant exercise. However, your waiting period is usually accompanied by the vaginal use of progesterone, the hormone of pregnancy, and water can disrupt its absorption. Also, swimming can cause vaginal and cervical infections which could be in turn influence the final result. I would personally recommend that swimming in the sea or in a swimming pool should be avoided during this time.”
Can I have sex?
“Sexual activity should be avoided at this time. While very pleasant, it can cause mild uterine contractions which in turn could wash your embryo out. So be patient and let your embryos implant.
“Major changes to your everyday life are not needed when you are waiting for your pregnancy test and these easy tips may lead to a positive result at the end.”
Distractions are key to getting through this stage, so if you can, try and do the following. (These tips worked for us)
Be kind to yourself
Being treated for a fertility problem can sometimes feel like a full-time job, but it’s important to make sure that you’re taking time out to do the other activities that you love and perhaps even brought you together in the first place. Cook a meal together, go to the cinema or out to eat. Just be kind to yourself.
Exercise & remember to breath
Get outside and take daily walks. Whilst walking, take slow, deep breaths to help ease any anxiety and stress.
Limit your ‘inner circle
Telling friends and family may act as support for some people, whereas others may feel it puts them under more pressure. Make sure that both you and your partner are happy with who knows what and when. Decide in advance who you will tell about your procedures and key timings, identifying those friends and family who will provide you with the support you need.
The art of communication
Good communication is the key to a strong relationship. Set ‘quality’ time aside to talk with your partner about your feelings, don’t distance yourselves from each other. Or, try ‘off-loading’ on a friend who has been through the same or a similar experience and who understands how you might feel.
Set limits & expectations
Setting limits and expectations with your partner beforehand will help you feel in control – discuss what you will do if treatment isn’t successful. You need to understand that if you are unsuccessful in achieving a pregnancy you cannot get away from the sadness, loss and disappointment that you will feel but, think about the number of cycles you are willing to commit to and how much time and money you are able to invest prior to treatment. Protect yourselves – don’t arrange to see friends on the day you expect your results.
How did you cope with the TWW? Did you keep busy and get on with life or did you stay in bed for the 14 days straight, with endless magazines, your favourite films on catch up and hope for a small miracle? We’d love to hear your story? Email firstname.lastname@example.org