When should you take a pregnancy test? Chances are, if you’ve made it to the IUI or IVF stage of infertility, you’re well-versed in waiting. Whether it’s been months or years since you first started trying to grow your family, you know the agony of the two-week-wait (TWW) all too well.
But after an IUI or IVF transfer, the stakes are higher than ever before. What should you do during those long 10-14 days between your procedure and beta day? Should you take an at-home pregnancy test (HPT) early to rip the emotional bandage off? Or should you wait for the official beta call from your provider?
The fertility community is deeply divided into two passionate camps:
- The pro-pee-on-a-stick people, and
- The wait ‘til beta day people
Many POAS (Pee on a Stick) people are self-proclaimed “addicts.” They test early and often; sometimes every few hours between 5 days post-transfer leading up to the day of the beta call. Perhaps you’ve seen photos on Instagram of a row of pregnancy tests labeled in black sharpie with the date and time of each test.
These POAS peeps often cannot stand the anticipation of the two-week wait. It’s too much. They’d rather take a pregnancy test and know if the procedure worked sooner, even if the results aren’t good. In their minds, it’s a win-win. If it’s good news, it alleviates some of the anxiety that can come with the extended wait. And if it’s bad news, it can give them more time to start grieving so the call isn’t quite as unexpected and devastating.
Wait ‘Til Beta Day
Others prefer to stay distracted and resist the urge to take an early pregnancy test. They know that pregnancy tests can be either inaccurate or tough to read (they’re not called “line eyes” for nothing). Plus, HCG levels can vary greatly between women, so having your blood drawn is a much more scientific measurement of a possible pregnancy. These “wait ‘til beta day” people fear that the lack of clarity that can come with taking a pregnancy test can actually make the stress worse.
I personally fell into this second category – opting NOT to take a pregnancy test at home after my frozen embryo transfer. I remember thinking, “I cannot see one more negative pregnancy test”. I’d never seen a positive test after 3 years of trying, and I didn’t want to pee on one more stick until I KNEW it’d be positive. For me, this was the right decision.
What’s a warrior to do? Below are some pros and cons of testing before the official beta call
The Pros of Taking a Pregnancy Test Before Beta Day:
- A shorter time to wait
- Having more time to process the news before the nurse’s call
- Less “symptom-spotting” and trying to interpret feelings
The Cons of Taking a Pregnancy Test Before Beta Day:
- The result could be inaccurate
- You could get obsessive and take too many tests
- It can be hard to read a pregnancy test! “Line Eyes” happen when you can’t tell if you see a second pink line or not. It can feel like a damn Magic Eye poster from the 90s.
Ultimately, this is a deeply personal decision and depends on the individual. Some folks need to know early and others prefer to wait a bit longer for a more definitive answer. Regardless of what you decide is best for you, be confident in your decision and know that whatever happens is not your fault. Finding support can also help make the time go by a bit faster. Whether it’s a therapist, support group, fertility mentor, or social media group, make sure you have people you can talk to openly about the feelings that the wait is bringing up. It can make all the difference in the world.
Stay strong out there! xo Elyse
Elyse Ash is the founder and CEO of Fruitful Fertility. It took her and her husband Brad three years, two rounds of IVF, and one frozen embryo transfer to see their first positive pregnancy test which brought them their daughter, born in March 2018. Elyse lives in Minneapolis and loves poetry, hockey, social justice, Beyonce, and pretending she’s into yoga.
A Note from Lyndsey and Michelle:
Each day during the TWW can feel like 10 if you’re sitting around counting down the minutes until test day (either beta or HPT). Plan activities you enjoy like:
- Trying new recipes – check out the one below and download even more here
- Fitting in a new workout (exercise can help support fertility!) – Lyndsey has a great yoga flow for positivity here
- Partaking in your hobbies (painting, knitting, gardening)
- Visiting with friends or family
If you’d like to give a new recipe a try check out this drool-worthy Chocolate Zucchini Muffin one. You get a hit of chocolate – and a veggie boost too!
Chocolate Zucchini Muffins
- 2 cups almond flour
- 1/4 cup cocoa powder
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 3 eggs
- 1 medium zucchini grated
- 1/4 cup cocoa nibs optional
- Preheat the oven to 350F and line a muffin tin with liners. Brush each liner with coconut oil to prevent sticking.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the almond flour, cocoa powder, sea salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Mix well.
- In a medium-size bowl, whisk together the olive oil, maple syrup, and eggs. Add the wet ingredients to the dry. Mix until combined then stir in the zucchini. If adding nibs do so here.
- Spoon the muffin batter between cups, so it's evenly divided then bake for 18to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.
- Let cool completely before eating, to prevent the muffins from sticking to the liners.
Maybe you already practice mindfulness techniques (awesome!) or maybe it’s something new for you. Did you know research has shown that mindfulness-based intervention can actually help support pregnancy rates? In addition, it can help women by “promoting their self-compassion, adaptive emotion regulation, and infertility-related coping strategies”. If you would like some help getting your zen on check out this great site, FertiCalm.
Prevent Mind Spirals
You know what these are. The “what-if” rabbit hole you allow your mind to spin into sometimes. “If this round doesn’t work, then what?”, “What if my insurance runs out?”, “Will, I ever get pregnant?” When your mind starts spiraling out of control, consider trying some positive visualizations. Turn on a calming song (we love Long Time Sun by Snatum Kaur) and envision what you want to be happening in your body right now – that little embryo implanting into the welcoming lining of your uterus, growing and dividing and becoming stronger by the minute. It may feel silly, but experts believe it can have a positive impact. It certainly can’t hurt!