What Happens After an Embryo Transfer?

April 27 2022 11:01am

Close Up Of Laboratory Technician Putting Some Substance Into Petri Dish

Once embryos are transferred into the uterus, it typically takes 10 days until hCG levels are high enough to detect on a pregnancy test. However, many of our patients prefer to know what should be happening at each day so they can imagine the progress and look forward to that final day when they can see if the treatment has been successful. In some cases, patients experience a false negative on day 10 and it is always worth taking additional pregnancy test 2-4 days afterwards.

Day by Day After a 5-Day Transfer

Once your embryos have been transferred, you are essentially waiting for them to implant and for certain hormone levels to rise to order to sustain the pregnancy. This is a day by day look at what should happen following a successful transfer:

  • Day 1: The blastocyst begins to hatch out of the shell – this is called hatching. The cells will carry on dividing throughout this process.
  • Day 2: The blastocyst continues hatching and begins to attach itself to the uterine lining – this is an incredibly important part of the process.
  • Day 3: The blastocyst attaches deeper into the uterine lining and implantation begins. It’s perfectly normal to experience some bleeding or spotting around this time and it’s not a cause for concern.
  • Day 4: The blastocyst digs deeper into the uterus and attaches to the endometrial blood supply. Some people experience more bleeding at this stage, but a lack of bleeding or spotting also doesn’t mean that it has not been successful.
  • Day 5: Implantation is considered complete and the embryo is developing, along with the cells that will eventually become the placenta.
  • Day 6: Placenta cells secrete hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin), which is the hormone picked up in pregnancy tests. The hormone triggers increased progesterone release in the first trimester to enrich the uterus lining and sustain the growing embryo/foetus.
  • Day 7: The embryo is now a foetus and yet more hCG is present in the blood stream as the placenta continues to develop.

How to Improve Chances of Successful Implantation

Many of our patients ask how they can improve their chances of success after an embryo transfer. Contrary to popular belief, bed rest or lying in strange positions will not help your chances of success. We recommend that you relax after your transfer for a day or so, but this is not essential. Avoid excessive exercise (walking or gentle movement is fine), do not lift anything heavy, or take a hot bath since heat can harm the embryo’s progress. It’s best to have moderately warm showers until the 9th or 10th day. Many patients find it helpful to focus on work or a project to make the wait easier.

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