PUPO, IVF, and The Search for Positivity After Embryo Transfer

PUPO IVF Couple Holds Hands

Starting the in-vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment process can be daunting. When you start IVF, Not only are you trying to develop a grasp on what the procedure actually entails, but you’re also trying to understand the MANY the minor details.

From fertility testing options to medications, there are tons of various players in the IVF game.

To make things even more confusing, many of these players have random acronyms. 

OPK (ovulation predictor kit), PIO (progesterone in oil), SIS (saline infusion ultrasound)…hop onto any fertility support forum, and you’re bound to find an array of acronyms and strange terminology that looks like random bits of nonsensical information. 

One of these acronyms is PUPO–Pregnant Until Proven Otherwise.

PUPO and IVF to go hand-in-hand, but an uninformed bystander (or someone new to the IVF process) may not understand the importance of the term. Because it’s a pretty big deal.

If you’re hoping to make better sense of the IVF process, it’s time to look at these random TTC acronyms and dive into what they really mean.

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Understanding the PUPO Meaning

Otherwise known as “pregnant until proven otherwise,” PUPO is one of my favorite TTC acronyms.

I’ll never forget the first time I came across the term. 

I was scrolling through my fertility clinic’s social media feed, reading various posts, and I happened to notice that this particular acronym appeared time-and-time again. 

Confused about what it meant (and why I was the only one who didn’t seem to know), I took the next, most logical step…I hopped onto Google and searched the term “PUPO meaning.”

And I was pleasantly surprised by what I learned.

If I’m being honest, I assumed it was shorthand for some obscure medication or gross IVF side effect.

Instead, however, I felt as if I’d stumbled upon some infertility anthem I’d been kept in the dark about. 

Waiting on a baby during the two week wait can be difficult. Holding onto the mantra of “PUPO” can help some people.

A Deeper Dive Into the PUPO Meaning

The IVF process is full of steps, from stimulating egg production to egg retrieval to fertilization.

The PUPO IVF term refers to one of the latest parts in the process–the period after a woman has undergone an embryo transfer, the process in which her fertilized embryo(s) is inserted directly into her uterus through the guidance of a catheter and ultrasound technology.

PUPO (pregnant until proven otherwise) conveys the idea that once the transfer has taken place, a woman could, essentially, be pregnant.

While anyone who undergoes an embryo transfer won’t know for sure if they are pregnant until the infamous two week wait is over, for all intents and purposes, pregnancy is definitely possible.

PUPO is a time when I was able to reflect on my IVF process and believe things might go the way I wanted them to.

Searching for Positive Signs After an Embryo Transfer

Here’s the thing about being PUPO, though. It’s exciting, but it’s also a nerve-wracking time when we want desperately to know what’s happening inside our body, but we don’t have any way to know. Many of us begin looking for early signs of pregnancy in the first two weeks.

If you’re one of the 20 – 35% of women who have a successful embryo transfer, there’s a chance you won’t experience any signs at all right away. In fact, Dr. Tanmoy Mukherjee, an infertility specialist at RMA of New York says:

“In general, there are no specific signs that an embryo transfer has been successful until the pregnancy test itself.” 

Dr. Tanmoy Mukherjee

 In other situations, you might notice certain symptoms or sensations. These can include:

#1: Spotting/Light Bleeding

As an embryo implants itself into the wall of a woman’s uterus, it can occasionally cause light bleeding or spotting. But this side effect can also come from the embryo transfer itself.

#2: Feeling Tired

Does it seem like you can’t stay awake during the day? Do you always feel ready for a nap? Feeling more fatigued than normal can be an early pregnancy indicator.

#3: Bloating

If your stomach is starting to swell in the first couple of weeks after your embryo transfer, there’s a good chance it’s NOT a baby belly. 

Instead, you could be experiencing bloating

One of the most frustrating aspects of the two week wait is the similarity in symptoms between early pregnancy and PMS. While bloating can certainly mean your period is on its way, there’s also a chance it could be one of the successful implantation symptoms

#4: Achy or Veiny Boobs

When I was pregnant with our first daughter, one of my first signs (and also one of my strangest) was the dark blue road map of veins that set-up shop across my boobs.

While I panicked that body was doing something weird, it turns out that strange boob sensations are a common sign of pregnancy. So, if your boobs are starting to swell, ache, or look like they’re covered in blue zebra stripes, you might be expecting.

#5: Headaches

While headaches aren’t anything new for me, they started coming hard and fast after I had my embryo transfer.

Apparently, increased headaches are just one more symptom all of those pregnancy hormones are starting to race.

Advice for After an Embryo Transfer

It’s easy to feel weighed down by the pressure of success after an embryo transfer. This is where the concept of PUPO comes into play.

No matter how stressed or overwhelmed you feel by the prospect of what’s happening in your body, the term PUPO reminds you that you very well might be pregnant. 

You took the medicine, did the tests, and worked with a professional who understands the ins and outs of the IVF process. There’s no denying that a negative result is always a possibility, but for now, you’re pregnant until proven otherwise!

What are Some Other TTC Acronyms You Should Know About?

Now that we’ve gone over the PUPO meaning, we might as well take some time to clue you in about the other TTC acronyms you might run into along the way.

If you jump onto any infertility website, blog, forum, or social media page, there’s a good chance you might see abbreviations like these:

  • AF: Aunt Flo/Getting Your Period
  • BCP: Birth Control Pill
  • Beta: The blood test that measures the amount of hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin), the pregnancy hormone, in a woman’s system 
  • BFN: Big Fat Negative or BFP: Big Fat Positive (regarding a pregnancy test)
  • CM: Cervical Mucus
  • DPO: Days Past Ovulation
  • DPT: Days Past Embryo Transfer
  • FET: Frozen Embryo Transfer
  • LMP: Last Menstrual Period
  • MC: Miscarriage
  • OPK: Ovulation Predictor Kit
  • POAS: Pee on a Stick
  • TWW: Two Week Wait

Appreciating the Relationship Between PUPO and IVF

IVF, or any fertility treatment, for that matter, can be mentally, financially, and physically draining.

That’s why the idea of being PUPO can help hopeful parents. Not only does the term help doctors explain to their patients what to expect from the two weeks between transfer and a pregnancy test, but it also helps families who want to feel optimistic.

The very idea of being “pregnant until proven otherwise” is an uplifting way to stay positive about your IVF cycle. Instead of dwelling on the possibility that the treatment didn’t work, it’s embracing every chance that it did.

From PUPO to IVF, what other TTC acronyms have thrown you for a loop during your journey to get pregnant?

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