One of the greatest dread an IVF patient and her loved ones face is- “what if the embryo falls off because of physical activity.” The fear of loss of embryo or IVF pregnancy failure is the root cause of all worry and discomfort. Negativity invades your mind- “After all it is an artificial implantation, and who knows if physical activity affects it?”
Count the facts: IVF implantation
When our patients pose in front of us with this worry, we advise them to think about human body in a scientific way. Even though in IVF pregnancy the implantation is artificial it is no different from what happens with the natural embryo attachment. Only the difference is that the embryo is implanted artificially where it attaches to the wall of uterus. The uterus accepts the embryo the same way it accepts the naturally fertilized egg. IVF and embryo implantation have been through extensive research and none of the studies show that physical activity correlates to IVF failure. Over that studies confirm that resting after the IVF procedure does not increase the chances of success of the treatment. The embryo implantation occurs within 10 minutes and the patient can walk around and resume day to day activities safely after 48 hours.
The dread of loss of IVF pregnancy:
It is important to understand that nature has foolproof functioning in everything including the reproductive system. The embryo attaches to the uterine lining very firmly irrespectively of whether it attaches naturally or artificially. The movements or walk around or even gravity does not cause the embryo to detach and fall off. Therefore the advice of bed rest after IVF procedure is over exaggerated and unrealistic. IVF pregnancy is just like a natural pregnancy only with the difference that the embryo is transferred and implanted artificially.
The effects of the compulsion of lying in bed:
In fact, the women who are advised to take complete bed rest after IVF procedure can get sick of the rest! This is because nonstop rest can itself be stressful and the boredom of just lying in the bed can psychologically tire you. If you are told to just lie in bed for the 2 week waiting period (between embryo transfer and the pregnancy test) it can be humiliating and over that just staying inactive for 2 weeks can induce a lot of anxiety and depressing feelings. That is because you are already anxious about the treatment results and you just keep on dwelling on the thoughts of the outcome of the treatment. Staying inactive and obsessing over the result makes it difficult to pass time.
Even then, we don’t understand why some doctors advise IVF patients to take complete bed rest after IVF procedure. May be it is because “victim blaming” is easy in case of outcome failure and the doctors do not have to take the responsibility for it. It is a tragedy when even the family of the patient blame her for “not resting enough” as the cause of pregnancy failure.
Important points to remember about IVF implantation:
- Activity does not cause the embryo to detach or fall off.
- The embryo is completely protected in the uterus as in the natural pregnancy.
- Patients can resume routine activities after 48 hours.
- Resting more after IVF is not related to increased success rate.
- Being active after the IVF procedure can keep away stress and anxiety.
IVF pregnancy is a medial boon for infertile couples but taking stress after the procedure can be as harmful as stress is to natural pregnancy. Forcing yourself to take complete rest, staying in seclusion and isolating yourself from everything like a patient is of no use.
In the Media:
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MD, DNB, FCPS, DFP ( Mumbai),
Fellowship in Reproductive Medicine (Singapore)
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