For any IVF patient, the embryo transfer procedure is an exciting and stressful milestone in their fertility treatment. After the weeks of medications and monitoring, the egg retrieval procedure and the anxious wait to see how the embryos develop, this final step of the IVF process is full of potential. Once the embryos has been placed in the uterus, one last thing must happen before a patient is officially pregnant: implantation.
What is embryo implantation?
Implantation occurs when an embryo attaches to the wall of the uterus in the endometrial lining. In IVF, it occurs six to ten days after the egg retrieval process, which is one to five days after the embryo transfer. This equates to days 20 to 24 of an ideal 28 day menstrual cycle.
What affects implantation success rates?
The rate at which embryos successfully implant depends mostly on two factors: the quality of the embryo and the receptiveness of the uterus. Most implantation failures are due to chromosomal abnormalities in the embryo, which explains why implantation rates go down as a woman ages. If a patient suffers from poor egg quality, the resulting embryos may not be healthy enough to implant.
After embryo transfer
Take it easy
While there’s no evidence that bed rest is beneficial after transfer, finding ways to relax during the dreaded “two week wait” between transfer and your official pregnancy test is good common sense. You have been through so much in the weeks leading up to the transfer, and this is an important time to nurture yourself. Get plenty of sleep and listen to your body: if you want to take a day off to cuddle up on the couch and watch Netflix, go for it. If you feel anxious and want to move around, go for a quiet walk somewhere soothing.
Eat as if you’re already pregnant
There are a lot of “implantation diets” and “miracle foods” discussed on the internet, but no real evidence to back up their claims. If you over-focus on one food or group of foods you may be missing out on the balanced nutrition you need to build a healthy baby. The best diet to aid implantation is the same diet you should be eating throughout your treatment and pregnancy: nutritionally balanced with lots of protein, fiber, and vegetables. Avoid foods like high-mercury fish and soft cheeses, and check with your doctor about any vitamins or supplements you should be taking. Of course, avoid all harmful substances such as alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine.