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Couples who are not able to conceive a baby naturally after a few years of trying often seek fertility treatments. After taking fertility tests and using fertility drugs, surgery, or artificial insemination, couples may opt for in vitro fertilization (IVF) when they fail to get pregnant. This procedure involves combining the couple's eggs and sperm outside their body in a laboratory. The formed embryo/embryos are then placed into the uterus of the mother. This complex and expensive procedure has resulted in the birth of more than 200,000 babies since the practice started in 1981.

Women are often anxious to know if they have successfully become pregnant after a long course of treatments with IVF. The process of getting pregnant with this technique is far from that of natural conception because various hormones and supplements may be used, sometimes resulting in symptoms similar to early pregnancy. False pregnancy symptoms may cause increased hopes and more anxiety. It is therefore important to know more about the signs and symptoms of early pregnancy after IVF to have more realistic expectations.

Early Pregnancy Signs and Symptoms

The two-week period after IVF is performed is a time when emotions can take a roller coaster ride. This is the time when women anticipate results, starting with missing a menstrual period, which is the usual first sign of pregnancy. However, some women experience vaginal spotting, which may or may not mean that IVF was a failure. In some women, slight bleeding occurs after implantation of the embryo into the uterine lining, but pregnancy may still proceed.

IVF treatments involve taking of progesterone, a hormone which supports the lining of the uterus. Its effects can mimic early symptoms of pregnancy such as cramping, bloating, breast tenderness and stomach troubles. However, these feelings may come and go and you may need to relax and take your time to wait for results of a blood test that will confirm if you have successfully become pregnant.

The earliest sign of pregnancy is a missed period. Vaginal spotting can occur but this will only occur for a couple of days and will not feel the same as a regular period. Spotting typically occurs between the 6th and 12th day of a natural pregnancy, but with IVF, it may occur about a week after the procedure.

Another early symptom of pregnancy is fatigue, which occurs within a few days of getting pregnant. This is an effect of progesterone, and may manifest as tiredness and sleepiness during the day. Sometimes, however, progesterone treatments may lead to this false pregnancy symptom.

Breast tenderness and enlargement may signal early pregnancy, but again, this might be an effect of hormonal treatments after IVF. The nipples may become darker, bigger and more sensitive to touch.

Food aversions, increased sensitivity to certain odors, food cravings and morning sickness are also common symptoms experienced during the first few weeks of pregnancy. Morning sickness usually manifests as nausea and vomiting early during the day but it may occur even later. Many women also experience dizziness, constipation and increased urination in the early weeks of pregnancy.

Women may experience these symptoms differently and some may have more or less symptoms than others. The only way to confirm whether your signs and symptoms are indicative of successful IVF is to take a home pregnancy test, which may be followed by a blood test for pregnancy.

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