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Why bed rest after embryo transfer is a bad idea

Posted Jan 24 2012 10:27pm
Many doctors advise bed rest after ET. Ironically, even if doctors don't , many patients ( and their family members) will impose this on themselves . Many patients are worried that their embryos will fall out if they walk around, which is why they remain flat in bed after their embryo transfer.

This is completely illogical ! Your embryos are safe in your uterus . Nothing you do can harm them , so please do not worry about this. However, it's hard to change preconceived notions - especially when they are so deeply embedded.

I first try to use logic. I ask them - Do people rest in bed after having sex in their bedroom ? If they don't need to take precautions in their bedroom, why should you take any ?

The reply usually is - But isn't IVF artificial ?

This is illogical. IVF is not artificial or unnatural. All that we are doing in an IVF cycle is mimicking what would normally happen in the bedroom, but is not happening naturally, because of a medical problem. The test tube acts as a fallopian tube for helping the embryo to grow in vitro for a few days, that's all !

Once it reaches the uterus, it really does not matter that the embryo has spent a few days in the IVF incubator ! It behaves exactly the same way as an embryo created after well-timed sex in the bedroom. Whether the embryo was formed in vitro or in vivo does not matter as far as implantation is concerned.

If logic fails, I try appealing to emotions. I remind them that God has designed the body with enough sense, so that the embryo cannot fall out , so there's no reason why they should worry !

In fact, bed rest can actually be harmful and counter-productive and I believe it reduces the chances of success. For one thing, it increases stress levels and makes the long 2ww even worse. It demoralises patients, who sit and brood about their chances of success all day long, thus helping to drive them ( and their spouses) crazy ! It causes constipation; and increases the risk of deep vein thrombosis. Prolonged physical inactivity is medical harmful !

Even worse, it encourages a subtle form of blaming the victim if the cycle fails. It's physically impossible for a healthy young woman to sleep all day long in bed , so they are not likely to do so. Now, if the cycle fails, she is quite likely to blame herself for the failure ! ( " I got up to have a shower, which is why my embryos fell out " ). Even if she does not blame herself, family members may do so - or her doctor will , because he needs to provide an explanation why the cycle failed even though he provided such good quality treatment.

Please do remember that implantation is a normal biological process , whether your embryos were created in vivo or in vitro ! This is not influenced by diet or activity - and is completely
out of our control. Please don't let your mind play games with you.

Keeping physically active; and keeping yourself gainfully occupied and your mind engaged will help you cope with the stress of an IVF cycle much better, so there's no reason why you should not go back to work after your embryo transfer.

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