I am going to tell you what physical symptoms I experienced during the two week waiting period after our first IVF cycle.
Immediately after the embryo transfer I started to scan my body for any signs of early pregnancy. It is quite normal to want to know as soon as possible whether the treatment was successful and we are pregnant or if we will have to go through another round of IVF. Slight symptoms like a little bit of nausea after breakfast, feeling a little more tired than usual or noticing some breast changes can all contribute to an overwhelming surge in our emotions. But are we actually experiencing these symptoms or is it only our mind playing tricks on us?
After googling every possible sign and symptom of early pregnancy, I came to the conclusion that none of these can actually guarantee that I am pregnant. They can be early pregnancy signs or they can be something completely different.
Very often we hear about implantation symptoms, which can include light spotting or cramping, higher body temperature, nausea or bloating. I was hoping to experience at least one of these but according to my research many women will not have any of the symptoms. For example, only 15 to 25 percent of women experience implantation bleeding. At the same time, all of these symptoms could be easily mistaken for pre-menstruation symptoms as well.
In order to survive and stay mentally healthy, giving up on googling all of my symptoms and accepting that I have to be patient was the best strategy for me. Trying to guess if you are pregnant based on your google browsing is tempting but it is definitely better to wait until the last day of the 2 week wait. That way you will know your answer with almost 100% certainty.
Apart from the possible early pregnancy and implantation signs, I experienced some physical symptoms related to the treatment itself, which, as a first timer in the IVF world, took me by surprise as I did not anticipate them.
1. Temporary soreness of breasts during egg retrieval
The day after my trigger injection my breasts started to become very sore and painful. This was not one of the early pregnancy signs because it started a couple of days before the embryo transfer. It is well known that breast tenderness is a common side effect of hCG hormone injection, which is applied as a last step of ovarian stimulation. The soreness and pain started to fade away a few weeks after the hCG shot, but it was definitely an experience that I did not expect.
After the embryo transfer my belly was getting bigger and bigger and I ended up looking like I was 5 months pregnant. After some research, I found out that it is a normal symptom after IVF. I learnt that drinking plenty of water could help with solving this problem, but that was not my case. It is also advised to practice yoga, which can help with gas release, however, this did not help me either. The only thing that helped was time.
3. Abdominal pain and cramps
In some cases, the stimulation drugs that we have to take can enlarge our ovaries. Usually, one ovary is 2-3 cm in diameter, however, the size of the ovaries can increase up to 10 cm during the IVF cycle, and it may take several weeks for them to return to their normal size. During this process we can feel pain and cramps around our ovaries and feel overall more sensitive than usual.
My best advice for anyone who is going through this process is to stay away from Google. If you are concerned about any of your symptoms during this time, contact your clinic and refrain from diagnosing yourself.