From IUI to IVF and donor egg treatment, the experience of each individual patient can significantly vary. There are however, a few common threads that pull every patient together; one such thread is the dreaded “two week wait”.

What is the Two Week Wait?

The two week wait is the period of time between a pregnancy attempt and the beta hCG blood test – the test that determines whether or not you’re pregnant. It takes about two weeks from the time a fertilized egg implants in the uterine wall to start emitting enough of the hCG hormone (human chorionic gonadotropin) to be detected by a blood test.

Can I Take a Home Pregnancy Test Before My Beta?

Home pregnancy tests are generally not recommended as they can render false results – either false negative or a false positive. A false positive result may be due to the fact that in many of our treatments, hCG, the same hormone that measures pregnancy, is given to “trigger” ovulation in many of our patients. Taking a home pregnancy test too early can result in a positive pregnancy test due to trace amounts of hCG injection still in the bloodstream from the “trigger” shot, even if implantation has not occurred. Home urine pregnancy tests are less sensitive than a blood hormone test, and can render a false reading despite the start of a pregnancy due to an undetectable amount of hCG.

On average, two weeks after your IUI or embryo transfer you will come back to our Center for your pregnancy test. This test is done by blood draw and measures the hCG levels produced by a developing embryo. The most reliable pregnancy test available is the hCG blood test performed in your local Shady Grove Fertility office

What Levels of hCG Will Determine If I’m Pregnant?

On Shady Grove Fertility’s Facebook community and other online forums, patients frequently talk numbers when referring to their beta results- for example, 250, or 893, or 2,334. These patients are referring to the levels of hCG hormone found in the blood.  A positive pregnancy or beta test is determined if the level of hormone is found to be 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.

How Many Beta Tests Do I Need?

Additional beta tests are typically performed every 48-72 hours after the first positive test to confirm hCG levels are continuing to rise. We look for the level of hCG to rise about 60% 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 means the embryo is continuing to grow. After your second or third hCG beta blood test, you may have a series of ultrasounds (1 or 2) to verify the presence of a sac and ultimately fetal cardiac activity, a heartbeat.

Can I Continue My Normal Day-To-Day Activities During the Two Week Wait?

We tell all of our patients to be cautious during their first five days after their treatment. We recommend that you refrain from strenuous physical activities as well as sexual activities during this time, unless otherwise instructed by your physician or nurse, as they may cause uterine contractions that might impair the implantation process. For some patients, there is also a greater risk of ovarian issues since the ovaries are still slightly enlarged from stimulation.

After the first few days, you can to start light aerobic activities such as yoga, moderate walking, swimming and lightweight training on a stair master or elliptical machine. The goal is to increase your heart rate, without creating additional impact on your body which can happen with activities such as jogging, aerobics or using a treadmill.

What Can I Expect Next?

If your beta levels come back positive, you are now considered to be 4 weeks pregnant. Most patients will come in for ultrasounds usually between 6-7 weeks gestation to verify fetal cardiac activity. At about 8 weeks gestation you, will be referred back to your OBGYN to continue your prenatal care.

If you aren’t successful, your physician and care team will advise you to stop your medications. You will have the opportunity to talk with your physician to review the past cycle and make a decision together about your next steps. While your physician will determine the timing of a new cycle, it is not always necessary to take time off between cycles unless otherwise directed. Many patients are able to begin another cycle the following month.

Getting Through the Two Week Wait – Advice from Doctors, Nurses, and Patients

  • Shady Grove Fertility Nurse Sonia“My best piece of advice: STAY OFF the INTERNET. Check with your nurse to see what sites are reliable and appropriate, but otherwise going to the chat rooms and boards will do nothing but cause additional stress. I always tell the patients ‘If you feel like you are about to start surfing the web… call your nurse first, we will talk you off the ledge.’” – SGF Nurse Sonia Parker
  • “For my third IUI, I took a vacation from work for the two weeks. Every time I tried to throw myself into work, I couldn’t give it 100% which caused more stress. So I saved up chores to do: cleaned and organized at home (labeled drawers, washed all the curtains, cleaned the windows… stuff I only did every few months, I saved it up for the two weeks), visited local family and friends, went to the library, actually made dinner using new recipes, caught up on my recorded shows, organized photos, did a scrapbook of my pets, and a million other little things I rarely had time for. And yep, I got pregnant. Apparently, taking a break from work was good for me!” – Former Patient KarlynShady Grove Fertility Dr. Stephen Greenhouse
  • “Try to continue your normal routine. This may help decrease the anxiety of the two week wait and don’t forget to do something special just for yourself.” – Dr. Stephen Greenhouse, SGF Physician in Fair Oaks, VA
  • “Almost nothing helped! But, if there was one thing, it was simply remembering how lucky we were to have the opportunity to get pregnant at all. I have to say, when we took two home tests and my partner told me we were pregnant was the most incredible moment of my life. I will never forget it. We now have a nearly five-month old. He’s beautiful, and totally worth the (three years and) two-week wait agony. Good luck to everyone waiting!” – Former Patient Kylie
  • “For my husband and I to get through the two week wait, we went on dates to restaurants we had never been to, we had a big dinner party with a bunch of our friends one night and on another night I went out with my high school girlfriends. For me, it was a really good distraction and it was helpful to surround ourselves with such happy, positive energy during the wait. It also took our minds off of it because we were looking forward to something a little bit closer than the pregnancy test and it also gave us something else to talk about.” SGF Employee and Former Patient, Tori
  • Dr. Anithia Nair of Shady Grove Fertility“I always tell patients to channel positive thoughts and karma for themselves instead of being anxious about the test result. When you are feeling worried, I always suggest diverting your thoughts to a mental checklist of all the people that love you and want the treatment to work (including me on the list of course)! It’s always best to force your thoughts away from the worry that can come with the two week wait.” – Dr. Anitha Nair, SGF Physician in Washington, DC
  • “Book a little vacation for afterward so you’d have something to look forward no matter what happened.” – Former Patient Emily
  • Melanie Bates, RN“I let my patients know that it may be a hard time for them, given we have been in contact nearly every day towards the end of their cycle. I encourage them to call if they need to talk or have questions. I also encourage them to do something nice for themselves – plan a date day with their partner, a day trip or a weekend get-away. I encourage them to have some time where they are not to discuss or think about their cycle (though this is definitely hard!). I let them know I will call as soon as I have the Beta results, and that the time the results come in varies, so not to worry as to what time they receive the call.” SGF Nurse Melanie Bates
  • “Remember that it is normal to have absolutely no signs of pregnancy during the two week wait.  So many women say to me I feel like I am going to get my period I can’t be pregnant and then we do the Beta and its positive! Remember “Dr. Google” did not go to medical school! Everything you read on the internet is not true and be particularly wary of information obtained in chat rooms and on blogs. Unless these sites are monitored by medical professionals to make sure the information people are writing is correct, the possibility of misinformation exists. Remember that the information written in a post might have been true for that person’s situation, but it does not mean it is true to your case. Don’t beat yourself up mentally. If you are maintaining a healthy lifestyle and following the instructions that your MD and the nurses gave you-, you are doing everything you can to make your outcome a positive one!” – SGF Nurse Chris Bishop
  • “Patients find it helpful to establish a routine prior to the start of their cycle. If you take go to a dinner and movie every Wednesday night, continue with that routine throughout your two week wait.” – Dr. Isaac Sasson, SGF Physician in Chesterbrook, PA
  • Karen Calabrese, RN“Remind yourself that you are going to succeed; it is just figuring out how to get there.” SGF Nurse Karen Calabrese

If you are having trouble conceiving and would like to speak with one of our New Patient Liaisons by calling 877-971-7755 or schedule an appointment.