During the early days of in vitro fertilization, women were often required to remain on bed rest at a fertility clinic for up to seven days after an embryo transfer. Doctors believed that women needed to remain stationary to prevent the embryo from falling out.
Another common procedure involved placing women in a position where their knees are brought up to their chest. Fertility experts used to believe that this was necessary for women that suffered from anteverted uteri.
Luckily, the in vitro fertilization (IVF) process has improved over the years. Doctors now know more about the human body and the reproductive process. They understand that the embryo is not at risk of falling out when you stand up.
Thanks to the latest research, fertility specialists have revised the most common instructions for patients after an embryo transfer is completed.
You May Not Need to Remain Inactive
Numerous studies and technological advances have helped improve our understanding of IVF. This includes one study that compared the IVF success rates of women that were required to remain in bed for several days and women that did not have any restrictions. The study found no differences in the success rates.
While resuming normal activity after an embryo transfer may not impact your IVF treatment, you may feel more comfortable limiting your activity. There is nothing wrong with resting after an IVF treatment. However, fertility specialists want you to understand that maintaining your normal routine may not decrease your chances of success.
You Should Avoid Excessive Exercise
While moderate activity may not interfere with the IVF process, most fertility specialists recommend that you avoid excessive activity. Intense workouts and constant activity may lead to potential issues that can decrease your chances of getting pregnant, especially if you suffer from ovarian cysts. The intense physical activity may cause the cysts to rupture.
Your fertility doctors may allow you to perform moderate-intensity exercises. However, they are likely to recommend low impact exercises, such as going for a walk around the block or on a treadmill. If any discomfort is experienced, you should consult your doctors.
You Should Avoid Excessive Heat after IVF
Another common recommendation is to avoid excessive heat after the transfer is completed. Taking a hot bath or using a heating pad may increase the risk of certain defects in the fetus.
You may also want to avoid the heat packs that are commonly used to relieve sore muscles. If you are suffering from lower back pain, consult with your doctor or consider taking additional time to rest.
You Should Avoid Swimming and Bathing
Along with avoiding a hot bath, your fertility doctors may recommend that you avoid all types of baths, as the sitting water can increase the risk of infection. If you take vaginal medications as part of your IVF treatment, taking a bath can also rinse out some of the medication.
Swimming is also often discouraged for the same reasons. While the risk of an infection from water entering the uterus is minor, doctors may prefer that you avoid these activities.
You Should Avoid Stress after IVF
Your fertility specialists will also likely recommend that you avoid stress. In fact, this is a common recommendation before, during, and after IVF treatments. High stress levels can result in changes to your hormones and put unnecessary stress on your uterus.
You should try to find ways to manage stress, such as finding sources of entertainment and humor. In one study, IVF patients were entertained by a clown for about 15 minutes after their embryo transfers were completed. The success rate for these patients was double the success rate of patients that did not receive clown entertainment.
Common Myths about Embryo Transfers
Besides the most common recommendations for women following an IVF treatment, there are many additional pieces of advice that you may hear from family, co-workers, or fertility blogs. While some of this advice may be based on common sense or old wives’ tales, it may not be supported by scientific evidence.
For example, you may hear that you should avoid perfumes, hair products, nail polish, and household cleaning products. The belief is that fumes from these products can interfere with the health of the embryo. While it is a good idea to avoid unnecessary fumes, there is no scientific research to back up this recommendation.
Another common recommendation is that you should avoid air travel. There is no evidence that suggests that flying may decrease your chances of getting pregnant after an embryo transfer. However, some women do get nervous when flying, which may cause unwanted stress. As stress should be avoided, you may want to avoid airplanes if you have a fear of flying.
What Foods Should You Eat after the Transfer?
While there are certain activities that you may want to avoid, there are also certain foods and beverages that you should avoid. Fertility specialists often advise against consuming caffeine. This is also a common recommendation throughout your pregnancy.
Besides caffeine, you should avoid alcoholic beverages when trying to conceive and during your pregnancy. In addition to avoiding caffeine and alcohol, your fertility doctors will likely recommend that you eat a balanced diet with plenty of healthy fruits and vegetables.
Always Listen to Your Fertility Doctors
You may not need to remain in bed for several days or a week after receiving an IVF treatment. In fact, remaining in bed may increase the risk of additional complications, such as thrombosis.
The most common instructions for women after an embryo transfer include avoiding excessive exercise and heat. However, every woman is different. Fertility specialists will tailor the treatment to suit each patient. This may also include different recommendations after the embryo is transferred.
While you should listen to your body and avoid any activities that may cause unnecessary stress, you should also listen to your fertility doctors. Ask questions about the IVF process and things that you should avoid after the embryo transfer.
Avoiding activities and substances that may harm your body or the embryo may help increase your chances of getting pregnant. However, if you experience an unsuccessful IVF treatment, do not give up on the process.