Orchid offers advanced genetic testing for couples who want their child to have the best shot of a healthy life. As part of our “Pregnancy and Fertility” series, we distill down your fertility treatment options and help you navigate the complex process.
How Do Pregnancy Tests Work?
As soon as a woman conceives, her body begins to undergo drastic changes. Although, she won’t be able to feel them happening — at least, not at first.
One of the very first signs of pregnancy is your body’s production of the pregnancy hormone human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG). The amount of hCG that your body begins producing will increase rapidly, doubling every two days as your pregnancy progresses.
If you’re doing fertility treatments like IVF, the recommendation is to do a beta hCG quantitative blood test ordered by your fertility doctor.
What about at-home urine pregnancy tests? Will it be accurate after IVF?
At-home pregnancy tests work by detecting the hCG in your urine. It involves placing the absorbent tip in the urine stream for 5-10 seconds, or depending on the test used, collecting urine into a clean, dry container and dipping the absorbent tip for 5-20 seconds. After 1-3 minutes the at-time will give you a result that’s positive or negative.
Urine pregnancy tests are not recommended for confirming pregnancy after embryo transfer since they’re not accurate in the earliest stages of pregnancy. False positive or negative results are common with urine-based tests early in pregnancy, which causes unnecessary confusion for fertility patients.
How Early Can I Take a Pregnancy Test After IVF?
If you did a fresh embryo transfer:
The beta hCG quantitative blood test is ordered 14 days after your egg retrieval. It typically takes 48-72 hours after the embryo transfer for the embryo to implant.
If you did a frozen embryo transfer:
The beta hCG quantitative blood test is ordered 9-13 days after your embryo transfer, depending on the developmental stage of the embryo when it was transferred. For blastocysts (day 5-6 embryos), it’s recommended to take the pregnancy test 9 days after embryo transfer.
After that initial pregnancy, comes a series of if/then procedures:
- If the initial pregnancy test is positive, the test is repeated two days later.
- If the hcG levels have doubled and are rising appropriately, then then the first OB ultrasound will follow about two weeks later. This is when your doctor can confirm an intrauterine pregnancy, check the size, and confirm a fetal heartbeat.
- If your BhCG levels are not adequately rising, your fertility doctor will continue to administer blood tests to determine whether the pregnancy is viable and rule out the possibility of an ectopic pregnancy.
- If the pregnancy test is negative, you will be directed to stop all medications, and your doctor can discuss considering a new IVF cycle to try again.
When do I “graduate” from IVF treatment and start seeing my OB/GYN?
Your fertility doctor will perform two ultrasounds: one at around 6 weeks and 3 days of pregnancy, and another at 8 weeks and 3 days.
After that second OB ultrasound, your OB/GYN will begin overseeing your continued medical care throughout your pregnancy.
What to Expect After an Embryo Transfer
During the two weeks after your embryo transfer and leading up to your scheduled test appointment, you can expect to feel similar symptoms of menstruation. Those symptoms would include heaviness or fullness in your pelvis which may be secondary to the ovaries and/or enlarging of uterus, fatigue, bloating, mood changes, appetite changes, breast tenderness, cramps, light spotting, muscle aches, and nausea.
The waiting game of not knowing if you are pregnant after the embryo transfer, is often very difficult. However, you can plan accordingly for that “two weeks wait” to be less anxiety-ridden by planning activities that you enjoy and spending time with your close loved ones. Get enough sleep and no alcohol, no smoking, no recreational drugs, limit caffeine to one cup daily, and avoid heavy lifting and strenuous exercise.
Fertility treatment and reproductive medicine have come a long way since IVF was first introduced over 40 years ago. If you are planning on starting or growing your family, check out our expert guides on all things genetics and fertility. Today, advanced genetic screening is now available to couples who want their child to have the best shot of a healthy life. Explore how Orchid helps you conceive with confidence.