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Wouldn’t it be nice if you could “do the deed” or have an embryo transfer and automatically know whether or not the process worked? That would be SO nice, but the best we can do is be on the lookout for two-week wait symptoms.
Following my own embryo transfers, I obsessed over what was happening inside my body. Any insignificant feeling or sensation was no longer a baseless biological experience. Instead, it was surely a sign the process worked.
Realistically, though, not everything you feel will be two-week wait (TWW) symptoms. Most of what you experience during this time is probably not a sign of fetal development.
A headache could just be a headache. A stomachache could simply be from the ice cream you’re stress eating to bide time. That slight bump in your belly is probably from the post-transfer bagels your husband treated you to (or was that just what we did?).
This doesn’t mean, however, that everything you’re feeling is inconsequential.
While not every physical symptom is a sign of pregnancy, this doesn’t mean indicators don’t exist. A few symptoms, including cervical mucus and implantation cramps, could indicate that there’s a baby on the way (yay!).
What is the Two Week Wait?
Before we go any further, let me apologize for the TTC abbreviation list you’re bound to be compiling by the end of this article. For whatever reason, acronyms and nicknames have become synonymous with conception and infertility.
No worries, though; I’ll walk you through them as we go!
Here’s your first vocab lesson: the two-week wait a.k.a “2WW” or “TWW”.
Whether you’re trying to track ovulation to conceive or using an assisted reproductive technology to start a family, all hopeful parents go through the TWW period after embryo transfer or sex during ovulation.
The TWW represents the time frame between possible conception and when you can receive a positive blood pregnancy test.
When you’re trying to conceive (TTC), taking a store-bought or blood pregnancy test right after sex or embryo transfer won’t provide valid results. In fact, if you test within the first couple of days, you’re almost guaranteed to get a negative response.
Once conception and implantation occur, your body will start producing a pregnancy hormone called Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG).
Positive tests are only possible once there is enough hCG present in your body, which, you guessed it, takes about two weeks.
How Do You Know if You Are Pregnant? – The Most Common Two Week Wait Symptoms
Trust me; you will never know how long two weeks can feel until you’re waiting to take a pregnancy test.
I remember reading articles mentioning how torturous the TWW could be during my first IVF cycle. I didn’t get how waiting a mere 14 days could be so bad. But then it was my turn.
Those two weeks lasted FOREVER.
To pass the time and keep me from losing all remnants of my sanity, I started trying to “figure out” whether the embryo transfer worked on my own. This was my body; I had to know it better than any test could…right?
I monitored my body from head to toe, searching for indications of something changing, growing, or working. I also consumed every medical journal I could find, looking for answers to the question, “What TWW symptoms should I be experiencing?”
While I was disheartened to learn that plenty of women don’t feel anything at all, I was pleased to find some two-week wait symptoms may pop up. Here are a few tell-tale signs you might experience:
1. Cervical Mucus
You may have heard that discharge takes on an “egg-whitish” consistency during ovulation, but did you also know that cervical mucus during the two-week wait can be a tell-tale sign of pregnancy?
Typically, after ovulation, previously loose discharge starts to thicken and dry up. However, if conception occurs, you may continue to notice runny cervical mucus for a more extended period.
2. Breast Tenderness
Sore, tender breasts have always been a marker for every reproductive activity happening inside my body. I wasn’t surprised when my boobs started to ache shortly after my embryo transfer.
When it comes to early signs of pregnancy in the first two weeks after conception, breast tenderness could indicate that a positive test is around the corner.
3. Implantation Cramping or Bleeding
Have you started noticing slight cramping after ovulation? Before you start stressing that something’s wrong, please find comfort in the thought that it could mean something’s gone right!
Implantation cramping doesn’t happen to everyone, but it’s more common than you might think. The only problem is the feeling is usually so insignificant that many people don’t even notice it.
Something else you might notice is implantation bleeding in your cervical mucus during the two-week wait. Occasionally, a small amount of blood is released as embryos burrow into the uterine wall. This blood is nothing to worry over and is an excellent sign you might be pregnant.
Is it the Two Week Wait or PMS?
Now for the negative – while there’s a good chance you might feel something during the two-week wait, differentiating between conception pains and PMS isn’t always easy.
The only sure way to know whether you’re dealing with a BFP (a big fat positive pregnancy test, that is!) or your period is to wait until the two-week wait is over to take a test.
Are Successful Implantation Symptoms the Same as TWW Symptoms?
So, we know what TWW symptoms to be on the lookout for, but how do they change after implantation?
During the first two to eight weeks of pregnancy, many things happen inside your body. It would be remiss to assume you wouldn’t experience any side effects during that period.
While some of the two-week wait symptoms we’ve already mentioned, such as breast tenderness and cervical mucus, may continue, you’ll likely experience additional things after implantation, such as:
- Mood Swings
- Morning Sickness
- Food Cravings
You might also have more unusual early signs of pregnancy, including a metallic taste in your mouth, acne, bleeding or swollen gums, or sensitivities to smells.
Your Day-By-Day Guide to the 2WW
So before it’s time to POAS (pee on a stick), you might be wondering what’s happening in your body to cause all of these crazy two-week wait symptoms. Well, that’s what we’re here to help you figure out.
Here’s a complete breakdown of the TWW process to help you better understand what happens after ovulation and conception!
1. Days 0 – 6 Post Ovulation
While most of your pregnancy will happen in your uterus, eggs become fertilized while still in the fallopian tubes.
During the first few days after ovulation and fertilization, you shouldn’t expect any symptoms to start. That’s because this portion of time is when the embryo is traveling through the fallopian tube and into the uterus.
While progesterone levels in pregnancy begin to rise during this period, the increased hormone levels aren’t usually a factor in how you’re feeling.
2. Days 7 – 11 Post Ovulation
Once your embryo hits your uterus, implantation should begin. This is the first step in developing a viable pregnancy.
Implantation occurs when a fertilized egg attaches itself to your uterine wall and burrows itself into the endometrial lining. It will remain in this spot for the remainder of the pregnancy.
While symptoms are often minimal or non-existent during this time, implantation bleeding and cramping can occur as the embryo digs into the lining.
3. Days 12 – 14 Post Ovulation
After the embryo connects to your uterus, your body will begin producing hCG. That’s where things really get fun in terms of two-week wait symptoms!
HCG is the culprit behind many unusual early pregnancy symptoms. Thanks to this pesky hormone, you might start noticing a wide range of strange sensations, such as nausea, breast tenderness, and mood swings.
Things to Stay Away from During the Two Week Wait
There’s a reason doctors tell you not to test during the two-week wait after IVF. No matter how quickly you think things should start “happening,” they might take longer than expected.
Rather than torturing yourself with a myriad of negative results, just wait until your physician gives you the go-ahead to test.
That doesn’t mean that you can’t be proactive during your wait.
Taking care of yourself and treating your body like you might already be pregnant is a great place to start.
There are also things you might want to avoid to increase your chances of implantation success. Some of these include:
- Alcohol, Smoking, or Drugs
- Rigorous Exercise
- High-Stress Situations
- Excessive Caffeine Intake
Look Past Your TWW Wait Symptoms and Enjoy the Experience
There’s no doubt about it – the two-week wait is an emotionally and physically exhausting experience for anyone who has to deal with it.
Not only are you dealing with a seemingly endless number of days until you know if you’re pregnant, but other frustrating side effects could also strike you during this early stage in the game.
While these two weeks might feel like they’re dragging, fourteen days is just a drop in the bucket of the rest of your lives. In a matter of days, you’ll find out if your family and story will change forever.
What were your two-week wait symptoms?
Kristen Bergeron is a freelance writer from Florida. In addition to writing, she is a wife, mother of two beautiful girls, Hadley and Scarlett, and a part-time photographer. After overcoming infertility and having two successful IVF cycles, she’s made it a personal goal to help educate men and women on the realities of fertility struggles. She is passionate about supporting fellow women who are trying to navigate the complicated world of conception, pregnancy, and learning to be the best mothers we can be.