Surviving The Two Week Wait: Tips To Reducing Anxiety During IVF Treatment

Are you approaching the two week wait and wondering how you will cope during this time?  

The time between your IUI or embryo transfer and your blood test to determine if you are pregnant can feel like an eternity.  You may be analyzing the faintest possible pregnancy symptoms, joining IVF chat rooms and fighting the urge to take a pregnancy test.  

Emotions run high during fertility treatments, especially during the two week wait. How could they not?  You’ve rearranged your schedule for numerous appointments, had more blood draws then you ever thought you would and placed so much hope in this medical process.  This is a stressful time and it may be causing insomnia, anxiety and/or depression and changes in your relationships.

You’ve been through so much to get to this point and now all you can do is, well, wait.  Having a plan to keep your mind at ease during these two weeks can make the unknown a little more bearable.  Here are some suggestions for surviving your two week wait.

Let go of questioning every change in your body

You will tie yourself in mental knots wondering if you’re fertility treatment worked.  It’s common to wonder if cramping, breast tenderness and fatigue are signs that you’re pregnant. The truth is that the symptoms of your period can feel very much like early pregnancy symptoms.  Why? Implantation, when the embryo attaches to your uterus, occurs 7-10 days after ovulation and can cause mild cramping or bleeding.  Bleeding due to implantation is usually pinkish and minimal.  An increase in estrogen and progesterone, which could be due to fertility medications or early pregnancy, may cause breast tenderness and swelling.  If you’ve undergone IVF, then implantation is around 3-5 days after the embryo transfer.  Analyzing your symptoms will create more anxiety—it’s best to wait for your doctor to do a pregnancy test.

Resist the urge to test early

I know it can feel like agony to wait out these two weeks and you’re so tempted to take a pregnancy test.  The trigger injection that causes you to ovulate contains HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin), which is the same hormone the placenta releases in early pregnancy.  You will get a false positive pregnancy test result if the trigger injection is still in your body.   Therefore, it’s best to wait 10-12 days after the trigger injection to take a pregnancy test.  This way you can be sure that the pregnancy test measures HCG due to pregnancy and not your medication.

Practice a stress relieving technique

Did you know that yogic practices can heal and protect your body from stress and quiet your mind?  Research shows that yoga reduces anxiety, depression, heart rate, blood pressure, and increases serotonin levels to boost your mood.   

Write down your mental chatter

Spend ten to twenty minutes a day writing down your hopes, fears and expectations.  Let this be a peaceful time to connect with your spirit and perhaps explore any thoughts that remain unspoken.  Slow down a bit, enjoy a cup of tea and use a pen and paper instead of your computer. 

Plan something fun!

Do you have somewhere you love to visit or an activity that just brings joy? A change of environment can help you and your partner to reconnect and take your mind off the calendar.  My husband and I have a favorite state park that we would frequent on our way back from Boston IVF.  The bramble-lined path down to the sea rocks was the place of one of our first dates and a place of peace when we were in the two week wait. 

Relax with acupuncture

Acupuncture has increasingly come into the fertility treatment spotlight and is offered on site at various fertility clinics. Research shows that it can help to improve pregnancy success rates and reduce your anxiety during IVF treatments.  

Practicing these simple tips can give you a sense of control in the fertility process and help you to cope and even relax during the two week wait.