Whether you are actively trying to conceive on your own or undergoing fertility treatment, the time between potential conception and finding out if you are pregnant can feel like a lifetime. This period, commonly referred to as the 2 week wait (2ww), can be filled with both hope and anxiety. In order to help make the 2 week wait more manageable, we’ve compiled several important 2ww facts:
What is happening internally during the 2 week wait?
It takes about 2 weeks from the time an embryo implants in the uterine wall to start emitting enough of the hormone hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) to be detected by a blood pregnancy test known as a beta. After that period of time has passed, we can be reasonably sure that the test results are accurate.
Can I take a home pregnancy test before my beta blood pregnancy test?
At Shady Grove Fertility, we do not recommend taking an at-home urine pregnancy test, as it can render either a false positive or false negative. A false positive result would show that you are pregnant when you are, indeed, not. A false negative result would show that you are not pregnant when you are, indeed, pregnant. Either way, the emotional burden of a false result can be a lot for a patient or couple to bear.
A false positive may occur because the same hormone that is used to trigger ovulation—hCG—is what is measured during a urine pregnancy test. In this case, trace amounts of hCG leftover from fertility treatment may influence the results of the test and render them inaccurate. Similarly, for urine-based pregnancy tests that result in a false negative, it could be that not enough time has passed in order to measure the discrete amounts of hCG common in early pregnancy.
On average, two weeks after intrauterine insemination (IUI) or embryo transfer, patients will come back to our center for a pregnancy test. Unlike a home pregnancy test, the beta test administered in the office is blood-based and measures the hCG levels produced by a developing embryo. The most reliable pregnancy test available is the hCG blood test performed at your local Shady Grove Fertility office.
What is a good result for my first beta test?
We determine a beta test to be “positive” if the hCG hormone level is above 5 mIu/ml, as long as the test is not done too early following an hCG trigger injection. A blood hCG number over 100 is a good first beta result, although many ongoing pregnancies start out with a beta hCG level below that number. Higher numbers are not indicators of a multiple pregnancy; only the ultrasound can determine if you are pregnant with multiples.
What happens if my pregnancy test in the office is positive?
Additional beta tests are typically performed every 48 to 72 hours after the first positive test to confirm that hCG levels are continuing to rise. We look for the level of hCG to rise about 60 percent or more in each of the additional tests. If the number continues to increase, physicians become more confident that there is likely a viable pregnancy, as the rising levels indicate that the embryo is continuing to grow.
After your second or third hCG beta blood test, you may have one or two ultrasounds to verify the presence of a sac and, ultimately, a heartbeat.
Getting through the 2 Week Wait: Tips from Former Patients
Navigating your way through the 2 week wait can be tough, but finding support can help make the wait just a little bit easier. Over 16,000 people have found a network of support in our online community. Recently, a current patient posed this question to the group: “How did other women get through the 2 week wait?”
Christina: Keep busy and don’t obsess over it. Remember that it only takes one. After two failed IUIs, the end of my first IVF 2 week wait brought me the news that I was pregnant!
Julie: I never lost faith that it would happen someday, so I used to think about how we’d announce it and plan our baby registry.
Tarah: I had a wonderful, supportive nurse that I called almost daily to talk about different things I was experiencing. She stayed positive and did her best to calm my fears. I went for long walks and listened to inspirational music during this time as well.
Jaime: Stay busy doing whatever you can! Remember: it only takes ONE!!! Best of luck to you!
Tara: I just finished my first 2ww (unfortunately it was negative). My advice is to not start using at-home tests in the few days before you get the official blood test. I wound up not being able to resist, and then each time I did it there was that brief period of hope while I waited for the stick to change, and then the disappointment when it didn’t. And even if I had been pregnant, it still probably wouldn’t have shown up on the at-home test since it was just too early.
Jen: Stay busy!! Do something fun!! Get your nails done. Have a girls’ night.
Cristen: I think the 2ww is the worst part! Like everyone else said: keep busy! Plan lots of stuff that will keep your mind off of it. Don’t pee on any sticks too! Wishing you the best of luck! We are pregnant with our third Shady Grove IVF baby boy!
Jaime: Stay very busy!!! Do anything you can to take your mind off the wait. My first IUI cycle was a success and I’m now 28 weeks pregnant. Good luck and stay hopeful!
Share your advice on the 2WW with other patients
While the 2 week wait can be a stressful time, we would caution you to avoid at-home testing. It is better to wait and get the most accurate results from your doctor, rather than be disappointed by a false negative or false positive. As our former and current patients recommend, try to stay busy and keep your mind off of the 2 week wait, as difficult as it may be. And always keep in mind that you have an active support team to help you through, whether it’s Shady Grove Fertility staff and support services, or the Shady Grove Fertility Facebook community.
If you are considering infertility treatment at Shady Grove Fertility’s offices throughout Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington, D.C., please speak with one of our New Patient Liaisons at 877-971-7755 or click here to schedule an appointment.