Technology and medicine have come a long way since the first successful embryo transfer. In the early days of fertility science and innovation, women were on strict bed rest for at least two weeks after an embryo transfer. That meant no standing under any circumstances — even to use the bathroom. However, recovering from an embryo transfer looks much different today.
While you should rest, strict bed rest is no longer necessary or even advisable. Yet, there are still certain activities and precautions that should be taken after an embryo transfer to increase your odds of success.
Our knowledge regarding the significance of bed rest after an embryo transfer has greatly evolved in recent decades. It became clear that extreme limitations were unnecessary — and many studies have proven this to be true.
But before we dive into the research, what is an embryo transfer?
An embryo transfer is the last phase in the in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycle process. With the use of medications, IVF stimulates the ovaries to release more healthy eggs. These eggs are retrieved and, after fertilization in a special embryology lab at the IVF clinic, they are implanted into the women’s uterus. From there, the embryo must attach to the uterus wall to produce a pregnancy.
IVF has become a common procedure used to help those struggling with infertility. It is often recommended to patients with ovulation disorders, damaged fallopian tubes, endometriosis, uterine fibroids, genetic disorders, and more.
The Research on Embryo Transfers and Bed Rest
So, do you need bed rest after an embryo transfer? The simple answer is no.
- A study in 1997 demonstrated that even a 24-hour bed rest didn’t produce any better outcomes than a 20-minute rest period.
- In 2005, researchers further discovered that there was no difference in pregnancy rates between groups of women who got up immediately after an embryo transfer and those who rested for an hour after an embryo transfer.
- In 2011, a published scientific review outlined various studies regarding bed rest and embryo transfer. The authors concluded that there wasn’t enough evidence to support the use of bed rest following IVF or embryo transfer procedures.
- In fact, more recent studies have indicated that extended bed rest may contribute to negative outcomes, specifically those who have had IVF with the use of a donor egg.
It was determined that bed rest and inactivity, combined with increased estrogen, led to increased blood clot formation and insulin resistance. Ultimately, these blood clots may disrupt the growth and development of the fetus by halting blood flow to areas where it’s very much needed.
On the other hand, light activity increases blood flow, reduces stress, and reduces inflammation. These factors are associated with better fetus development and improved health for the mother-to-be.
What to Avoid Immediately After an Embryo Transfer
Generally, you should be able to resume your normal activities after an embryo transfer, including mild to moderate workouts, which may benefit both mother and baby. However, most experts don’t recommend performing vigorous workouts or activities that may cause discomfort. This includes avoiding heavy lifting and jumping activities.
You also want to avoid having intercourse afterward, since this may disrupt the implantation of the embryo in the uterus.
Some specialists recommend that their patients avoid heat, such as hot baths or hot tubs. However, a regular shower is permitted. The reason for the avoidance of sustained elevated heat, for example, sunbathing on a beach, is that it can raise core body temperature. In turn, this may affect the implantation and impact the physical state that is required for success.
It’s important to follow any instructions provided by your medical team. They know you and your fertility journey best and can give relevant advice for your specific situation.
If you experience mild bloating, constipation, cramping, breast tenderness, or spotting, there is usually nothing to worry about. However, if these appear severe or you have concerns, it’s important that you contact your fertility team or physician.
Keep in mind that it is not your fault if an embryo does not implant. According to recently published studies, the average woman requires 2.7 IVF cycles before successful embryo implantation occurs when using her own eggs (versus egg donation). Sometimes, these things take time and a couple of attempts before pregnancy occurs.
Every fertility journey is different. At ELITE IVF, our caring and compassionate team is here to help you achieve your baby dreams. For more information, contact us today and find out how our trusted and experienced team can help you navigate your fertility journey.