Whether trying to conceive naturally or via fertility treatments the two-week wait can seem like it takes forever. What is the two-week wait (2WW or TWW)? This is the time period between potential ovulation or insemination and when a pregnancy test can be taken for the most accurate results.
The truth is that during the TWW, women can become hyperaware of their bodies and begin asking questions such as, “Am I pregnant?”, “What happens in the 2 week wait?” and “Do you feel anything in the 2 week wait?” However, this can make the interim even harder, so instead, it’s important to understand what to expect and why the wait is necessary. Let’s take a look at everything you should know.
The early signs of pregnancy can vary between women. Where some women will experience mild cramping several days after ovulation, others will not have any two-week wait symptoms. The cramping is a result of a fertilized egg attaching to the lining in the uterus. After the egg travels down the fallopian tubes, it turns into a blastocyst and begins the uterus’ implantation process. The implantation provides a blood supply for the blastocyst to begin growing into a fetus.
In addition to cramping, some women will also experience what’s known as implantation spotting or bleeding. If this will occur, it usually happens within 10 to 14 days following conception or an embryo transfer, which should be around the time your regular period would start. This type of bleeding is much less than regular menstrual bleeding.
What is the Two Week Wait?
Pregnancy tests check for a hormone called hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin). The hormone starts becoming detectable in the blood about two weeks after embryo implantation. So this is the reason for the two-week wait. The test is referred to as a beta hCG blood test. It is the most accurate way to confirm a pregnancy.
Body Changes During the Two Week Wait
As we mentioned, some women may feel as if they’re about to start a menstrual period. While others will feel no different. Women who go through an embryo transfer via IVF tend to feel symptoms because their bodies have been put through a lot. Also, medications given by the doctors are designed to promote an optimal environment for a pregnancy.
Two-week wait symptoms can include abdominal bloating, light bleeding or spotting, cramping, breast tenderness, increased hunger, and fatigue. While such symptoms can be alarming, they are considered normal and may not even signify that the woman is pregnant. However, if after an IVF treatment more severe symptoms such as excessive bloating, chest pain, lower abdominal pain, or shortness of breath of experienced, a call to the clinical team is necessary.
Also, remember not to get discouraged if no symptoms are experienced, because as we’ve mentioned, some go through the two-week wait with no symptoms.
Is a Home Pregnancy Test Necessary After A Fertility Treatment?
It’s best to avoid taking a pregnancy test at home because it can offer false results, either a false positive or a false negative. In fact, a false positive is possible any time a woman undergoes IVF because of the treatments given. So, rather than stressing over results that may not be accurate, it’s a better idea to schedule an appointment with a doctor two weeks after implantation.
3 Reasons to Get a Blood Pregnancy Test
Even if you give in to temptation and take a urine test at home, there are several reasons to get a pregnancy test done using blood. Here are the three top reasons:
- Urine pregnancy tests are much less reliable than blood tests because larger amounts of the hormone can be monitored in the blood.
- Sometimes when a woman has a low level of hCG in her blood but no pregnancy, it can give more information to the Fertility Specialist for choosing options.
- From time to time, pregnancies can end up establishing themselves in the fallopian tubes in what’s known as an ectopic pregnancy. This can be very dangerous for the woman if it’s not caught early.
What to do (or not do) During the Two-week Wait
The two-week wait can feel like an eternity and can be even more stressful if you’ve gone through fertility treatments. So, rather than let the wait get you down, here are a few survival tips to help make the TWW more bearable.
Don’t Stress if There are No Symptoms
First and foremost, stress is not good for you or your body during this time. So, do your best not to dwell if you’re experiencing no symptoms. Also, keep in mind that some early pregnancy signs mimic those of a menstrual period, so the only real indication that the pregnancy was successfully started is by getting a blood test after the two-week wait is over.
Stay Busy and Do Things to Enjoy Your Time
A busy mind is a happy mind. Or at least a less stressed one. So, rather than sitting around, counting the days until you can take a blood test, use the 2WW to do things you enjoy but haven’t had time to do. If you can keep yourself busy doing something you like to do, then you will have less time to dwell on what-ifs and the rest of the time you have left. Take this time to spend with family, friends, your partner, shopping, or whatever else that will fill your day.
Seek Support from Friends, Family, or a Therapist
Remember that no matter what your situation is, you don’t have to go it alone. Talking to others will help you ignore the thoughts going through your head, which can be extremely helpful. If you don’t have friends or family available, you can also join online groups and forums with others who are going or have been through the same. This can also be a great time to find a therapist for weekly or bi-weekly meetings.
In the end, the two-week wait is almost painful to wait through. However, if you keep yourself busy, get plenty of rest, and surround yourself with people you love, the wait will be easier, and time will pass faster.
Further Reading: First Trimester of Pregnancy