After the embryo transfer, it can be very hard to live through the two week wait. Patients are emotionally very vulnerable, because there is a lot of anxiety as to what the outcome is going to be. They are uncertain as to what they can do to increase the chances of success - and their major fear is that they may inadvertently do something which will reduce the chances of their embryo implanting. There is so much conflicting information out there regarding how diet, activity and stress affects embryo implantation, that patients are confused - and this just adds to their stress levels !

What about the advise that patients should not take "hot foods" such as papayas, because this can harm the embryo ? Is it safe to get your hair coloured? Will a hot tub bath cook the embryo and kill it ? Is it safe to travel on a scooter ? Will lifting heavy weights cause any harm ? If the advise that bed rest is good during pregnancy has been handed down over generations, surely there must be a grain of truth in it ? It's OK for doctors to dismiss these as old wife's tales, but can they really be sure ? If you get a headache, is it safe to take a pain killer ? Or will this cause birth defects in the embryo ? My embryos are very precious and I refuse to do anything to jeopardize my chances of success.

In reality, the chances of embryo implantation are not affected by anything you do - or don't do. What's going to happen inside the uterine cavity is going to happen, because it's a natural biological process over which you have no control. This is why it's completely safe for IVF patients to lead a completely normal life after the embryo transfer. After all, once the embryo has been transferred into the uterine cavity, it then has to obey the normal natural biological process of implantation.

The commonest argument against this is - Yes, doctor, but aren't you doing something which is artificial during IVF treatment ? After all, you're making the embryo outside and then putting it back in the uterus ? Isn't there a risk that something which is put back artificially inside the uterus can also fall out if I do something wrong ?

IVF is not artificial reproductive technology - it is assisted reproductive technology. IVF specialists are just helping to give mother nature a helping hand ! After all, when fertile couples have sex in the
bedroom, they don't even know when they ovulate and when the egg fertilizes. They lead a completely normal life - and the majority gets pregnant without any problems at all.

In IVF treatment, all we are doing is copying what would normally happen in the fallopian tube, in our test tube for 2-5 days. We are bypassing the hurdles which the infertile patient is encountering in her bedroom and mimicking the process in vitro. However, once the embryo has been made and transferred into the uterus, it's exactly like any other fertile woman's embryo! IVF allows us to bypass the fallopian tube, but after transferring the embryo back into the uterus, it follows exactly the same path which it would in normal fertile couples. This is why IVF patients do not need to take any special precautions after the embryo transfer.

Authored by : Dr Aniruddha Malpani, MD and reviewed by Dr Anjali Malpani.

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