Waiting for Pregnancy Results: The Two-Week Wait and Its Symptoms

By (embryologist) and (babygest staff).
Last Update: 09/24/2019

The time between the last step of assisted reproduction treatment (artificial insemination or IVF) and the time of the pregnancy test is the purported two-week wait. It is a period of 12-15 days characterized by anxiety before knowing if the beta-hCG test is positive or negative.

The hormone that allows to confirm if there is gestation is the hormone beta-hCG. In this article we are going to talk about this hormone and its symptoms. We'll also hand out some tips how to survive the two-weeks-wait.

What is beta hCG?

This is the beta subunit of the hormone hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin), colloquially known as the pregnancy hormone.

It is released by the blastocyst-stage embryo after implantation in the endometrium, which is the mucosal layer of the uterus where the embryo adheres to continue its development. This occurs regardless of whether fertilization occurs in the woman's body (natural pregnancy and artificial insemination) or takes place in vitro.

The embryo that performs the implantation is in blastocyst stage, which is reached between 5 and 6 days after fertilization.

Two cell tipes can be observed:

The Internal cellular mass (ICM)
cells that will give rise to the embryo itself.
The trofoectoderm
cells that will give rise to the placenta and other necessary elements during pregnancy

It is the trofoectoderm cells that are responsible for embryo implantation and subsequent production of the hCG hormone.

The function of this hormone is to maintain the corpus luteum. This is a structure of the ovary formed from the follicle after ovulation.

Its function is to maintain the production of progesterone so that the pregnancy progresses correctly. Remember that the follicle is the ovarian structure where the eggs mature.

If you want to know more about the hormone beta-hCH, you can check this link: The pregnancy hormone.

Symptoms of Betaespera

During the time until a pregnancy test can be done, a woman may feel a series of symptoms. The most common and habitual are:

  • Cramps
  • Increased urge to urinate
  • Tiredness and heaviness
  • Clear or yellow vaginal discharge
  • Lower back pain
  • Swelling
  • Nausea
  • Slight bleeding

These sensations may appear more or less intensely and are independent of pregnancy. This means that noticing these symptoms is not necessarily an indication that the pregnancy has begun. Similarly, the absence of symptoms does not prove that pregnancy did not occur.

In addition, some of the symptoms are very similar to premenstruals and can be confusing.

Therefore, we cannot confirm or rule out pregnancy on the basis of symptoms during the two-week wait, but must wait to know the result of the pregnancy test.

Tips to survive until the pregnancy results

During the two-week wait it is normal for the woman to feel nervous, restless and anxious to know if the pregnancy has taken place or not. Some recommendations for coping with this period and reducing the emotional stress it generates are:

  • Keep your mind busy and go about your daily routines. Absolute rest is not advised (except when your doctor tells you to).
  • Do not obsess over possible symptoms.
  • While it is essential to be prepared for any outcome, it is recommended that you do not get the idea of any outcome, either positive or negative.
  • Maintain a positive and relaxed attitude.
  • Receive support from family and friends. Talking about it is convenient.
  • Consider psychological help in case of high anxiety or stress.
What is fundamental is tranquillity and avoiding obsession or the search for signs that indicate a certain result of the future pregnancy test.

It is also very important that the woman wait for the right time to do the test and not do it before at home. This could lead to erroneous results, especially false negatives, but also false positives.

Two-week wait in Surrogacy

Surrogacy is an assisted reproduction technique in which a woman offers to gestate the baby of another woman, man or couple without her own capacity for gestation.

It is usually done through an in vitro fertilization (IVF) process. Thus, the embryos generated with the gametes (eggs and sperm) of the future parents or donors are transferred to the uterus of the woman who is going to gestate, known as the surrogate mother.

In this reproductive treatment, the two-week wait is "suffered" by both the pregnant woman and the future parents. However, the latter are particularly anxious to know the result of the pregnancy test, as this marks the beginning of their journey towards paternity/maternity.

Despite the anxiety, it is essential that they know the importance of the pregnant woman taking the test at the right time and not pressuring her.

FAQs from users

Is the two-week wait shorter if it is a blastocyst transfer?

By Andrea Rodrigo (embryologist).

If the embryos transferred are blastocyst stage embryos, we get closer to the time of implantation and therefore, by implanting earlier, the waiting time is reduced. However, a minimum of 10-12 days is recommended for blasts.

What are the symptoms of a positive two-week wait?

By Andrea Rodrigo (embryologist).

If we refer to the two-week wait as the time between the end of the reproductive treatment and the pregnancy test when it is positive, it it is possible that the symptoms are more noticeable. However, as we have commented in the text, the sensation experienced by each woman are different and a greater or lesser intensity of the symptoms is not always indicative of a positive or negative result, respectively.

Are the symptoms of a two-week wait after IVF different to those after artificial insemination?

By Andrea Rodrigo (embryologist).

In principle the symptoms in women do not have to vary depending on the assisted reproduction technique applied. However, since higher doses of medication are generally used in IVF, it is possible that some women may have different or more intense symptoms.

In any case, it is important to know that once implantation takes place, the pregnancy goes on regardless of whether it has been achieved naturally or through IVF or artificial insemination.

Suggested for you

Among other things, we have commented that in cases of surrogacy, it is the surrogate mother who becomes pregnant and, therefore, the one who must wait for the right time for the pregnancy test. If the pregnancy is positive, she must follow a rigorous control of the pregnancy and inform the future parents of the changes and the evolution of the gestation. Do you want to know how this pregnancy monitoring is carried out? Find it out here: Follow-up of the pregnancy of the surrogate mother.

Finally, we have commented that the support of family and friends is fundamental during the two-week wait. In cases of surrogacy, it is recommended that the surrogate mother and the future parents support each other. However, this will vary depending on what kind of relationship they have. If you want to know more about this, I recommend you read this article: Relationship between the surrogate mother and the future parents.

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References

Authors and contributors

 Andrea Rodrigo
Andrea Rodrigo
Embryologist
Bachelor's Degree in Biotechnology from the Polytechnic University of Valencia. Master's Degree in Biotechnology of Human Assisted Reproduction from the University of Valencia along with the Valencian Infertility Institute (IVI). Postgraduate course in Medical Genetics. More information about Andrea Rodrigo
Adapted into english by:
 Romina Packan
Romina Packan
Babygest Staff
Editor and translator for the Babygest magazine in English and German. More information about Romina Packan

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