Most women who are having an embryo transfer want to know what else can they do to prepare their bodies to increase their chances of success. A quick internet search will show many ideas but here are the ones I think are useful on the day of transfer and during the two week wait. You probably can’t do all of them and that doesn’t matter just do what you can.
I know no one wants to hear this one as you’ve heard it a thousand times before but I’m just talking about simple ways to make the day go as smoothly as possible. These include knowing where you’re going, and allowing enough time for traffic and parking so that you’re as calm as possible prior to the transfer. If it’s too difficult for your partner to come with you take another family member or friend or just enjoy a bit of time by yourself. If it’s convenient take the day off work and go home to relax for the rest of the day. If you do have to go back to work try to keep yourself warm, where possible don’t schedule stressful meetings for the day and try to leave on time and enjoy a relaxing evening at home.
Some of the IVF clinics recommend you have sex the night prior to or the morning of embryo transfer. Studies have shown that exposure to semen is important for normal embryo development and implantation. Whilst the one big study I found did not find increased live birth rates it did find an increase in pregnancy rates at 6 to 8 weeks which indicated the presence of semen assisted with embryo development and implantation. The study also found that intercourse at this time it definitely isn’t harmful to the embryo or chances of a successful pregnancy.
In Chinese medicine we love warmth and think it’s very important for those trying to get pregnant. Simple ways to keep warm are keeping your socks on, eating warm foods like soups and stews and warm drinks, like tea. Following transfer it’s recommended you don’t apply heat packs or other heat devices to your abdomen so the embryo doesn’t become overheated.
Many women are worried their embryo or embryos might fall out when they stand up and move around after their transfer. Rest assured that doesn’t happen. Even though in most images the uterus is depicted as a hollow organ it isn’t. Your fertility specialist has placed your embryo where it needs to be and it is hopefully finding a receptive place to start its implantation process.
There is no evidence that bed rest post transfer will increase pregnancy rates but if you feel like spending the day curled up on the couch that’s just fine. Gentle activity is good to keep the blood flowing and the mind calm so a gentle walk is fine if you feel like it.
Perform your rituals
When my clients come in for pre and post embryo transfer treatments I have noticed how many of them engage in rituals. We often discuss what they have done or are going to do that day or during their TWW to enhance their chances of this transfer being successful. They might be wearing a pair of socks which are significant to them, they might be going to buy fries from McDonalds on their way home or they might be trying to replicate everything they did the last time they fell pregnant.
I’m a big fan of podcasts and have recently discovered a new one called the ‘Hidden Brain’ and I recently listened to one of theirs which was discussing rituals. What I learnt was people have always performed rituals, think weddings, christenings, graduations etc etc. In the last decades research has been done into why we perform rituals and what are the benefits which we derive from them.Research has shown that performing rituals are especially helpful with managing anxiety and grief. We experience anxiety when we feel uncertain and am unable to predict what an outcome will be. Rituals help us to manage this as they tell us exactly what to do and when to it which gives our brain a sense of control.
I think for many people there is nothing more anxiety-provoking than fertility treatment. Whilst there are many things which can be done to increase overall health and fertility there are never any absolute guarantees that these will work and people can never know exactly when they will be able to take home their baby. I think anything which helps to increase your sense of control during your fertility journey is useful and I look forward to hearing about many more embryo transfer day rituals in 2023.