How Long Does It Take for Hormones to Balance After IVF?


A person balancing on one leg

An IVF treatment cycle involves putting a lot of extra hormones into your body, so it’s no surprise that women want to know how long it takes for their hormones to balance again after IVF.

It takes between 6 – 12 days for hormones to balance after IVF. Once you find out you’re not pregnant, you’ll stop taking all medications and you’ll start bleeding within 3 – 7 days. By the time you finish bleeding 3 – 5 days later your hormones should be balanced. If you’re pregnant, your hormones won’t balance but instead become imbalanced in a different way.

We’ll look at why it takes 6 – 12 days for your hormones to balance after IVF, the exception for pregnancy and how you’ll feel while your hormones balance. We’ll also look at how long it takes for your body in general to recover after IVF.

Why It Takes 6 – 12 Days for Hormones to Balance After IVF

The reason why it takes 6 – 12 days for hormones to balance after IVF is because although your body is working continuously to balance its hormones, it’s a period that speeds this process up by flushing all the unnecessary hormones from your body.

A post IVF period is started by stopping the hormone medications you’ve been taking to assist a possible pregnancy and prevent such a period, and by the time you’ve finished bleeding all the extra hormones should be flushed from your body.

It takes anywhere from 3 – 7 days for a period to start after stopping medication and 3 – 5 days until you finish bleeding. That means it takes 6 – 12 days for hormones to balance after IVF.

It’s important to point out that these 6 – 12 days start from the day you find out you’re not pregnant and stop taking your hormone medications and not from the day of the egg retrieval or embryo transfer.

The reason why you might mistakenly calculate from one of these two times is because after the egg retrieval you stop injecting yourself with medications and so it makes sense to assume your hormones should start to balance then. And since the embryo transfer is the last procedure of an IVF treatment cycle you might assume that’s when your hormones should start to balance.

But this is not the case because despite not having to inject yourself after the egg retrieval you’ll still be taking hormone medications.

Hormone medication for IVF treatment serves two purposes, to stimulate the ovaries and to help the uterine lining and support a possible pregnancy. After the egg retrieval there’s no need for ovarian stimulation but there is need for pregnancy-assisting hormones which you’ll be taking from the beginning of treatment, through the egg retrieval and embryo transfer and all the way until you find out whether or not you’re pregnant two weeks later.

It’s difficult for your hormones to balance when you’re continuing to add more to your body.

This is why when you’re doing a treatment cycle using frozen embryos, so you won’t have taken as many hormones or done as many injections as when you do a treatment cycle using fresh eggs, it takes the same amount of time for your hormones to balance.

You won’t have increased your hormones as much as you do in a full treatment cycle, but you still can’t start the post IVF period and speed up the process of balancing your hormones by flushing them from your system until you stop taking the pregnancy-assisting-hormone medications when you find out you’re not pregnant.

How Long It Takes for Hormones to Balance if You’re Pregnant

If it takes 6 – 12 days for hormones to balance after stopping medication when you find out you’re not pregnant because that’s how long it takes for the post IVF period to start and then stop, then how many days does it take for your hormones to balance after IVF if you become pregnant and don’t have the post IVF period?

The truth is that if you become pregnant your hormones won’t balance. They’ll just change from being imbalanced because of the IVF medications to being imbalanced because of the bodily changes that occur during pregnancy. Add to that the fact that for the first three months you may need to take additional hormones (yep, IVF may not finish with a successful treatment) to strengthen the pregnancy and the answer is your hormones won’t be balanced until your body recovers about three months after childbirth.

Or until you finish nursing. Or until you can sleep through the night. Or until your child leaves home.

How You’ll Feel While Your Hormones Balance and How to Cope

A woman lying on a window ledge staring outside

You could feel all the side effects that you felt at the beginning of IVF treatment when you were injecting yourself with hormones, again while they’re flushed from your body during your post IVF period.

This is because it’s not the elevated hormone levels that create all the unpleasant side effects (oh no that would be too easy) instead it’s the changes in hormone levels that do that. Yes, I was disappointed too. I thought at the beginning of IVF treatment, ‘Of course I’m feeling this way, I’m pumping all these hormones into my body. When I stop and have less hormones, I’ll feel better!’

But it’s not as simple as that. It’s the changes in hormone levels not the fact that they’re elevated which creates all the unpleasant side effects on your body. So you may have to experience mood swings, nausea, breast tenderness, hot flashes and tiredness all over again, just this time with the added pain of the disappointment you’re feeling due to failing to get pregnant.

The truth is that these side effects are usually not as bad while the hormones are balancing as they are at the beginning of treatment when you were pumping yourself full of hormones. This is because … well you’re not pumping yourself full of hormones.

You can cope with these side effects in the same way as you coped with them at the beginning of treatment by resting, maintaining a healthy diet, exercise and leaning heavily on your support network.

How Long Does It Take for Your Body to Recover After IVF?

Once IVF is finished not only do your hormones need to balance, but your whole body needs to recover too.

Primarily this means your ovaries returning to their normal size, but it also means recovering from the bodily stress of all the side effects too.

Once again, even though you might have assumed it happens sooner, your ovaries will finish returning to their normal size around the same time as your hormones balance.

This is because despite stopping to take the hormones that stimulate your ovaries around the time of the egg retrieval and despite the fact that the extra eggs which cause the ovaries to be enlarged are extracted during the egg retrieval, your ovaries remain enlarged because once the eggs are extracted blood rushes in to fill their place.

That’s why women who feel bloated still feel bloated after the egg retrieval and in some cases more so.

It takes time for the blood to drain and the ovaries to return to normal and again this is sped up by the post IVF period where the hormones that caused the ovaries to become enlarged in the first place are released.

The two exceptions to this are if you become hyper-stimulated (Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome / OHSS) or if you become pregnant. In OHSS, too much stimulation makes your ovaries swell and leak fluid into the abdomen or belly so it could take a couple of weeks longer for your ovaries to return to their normal size depending on how hyper-stimulated you are (there are three levels of OHSS: mild, moderate and severe).

If the IVF treatment was successful and you became pregnant it can also take several more weeks for your ovaries to return to their normal size, and the accompanying bloating may actually get slightly worse before becoming better.

As for recovering from the bodily stress of all the side effects, that can be relatively quick. Once your hormones are balanced and your ovaries are back to normal there should be no reason for any mood swings, nausea, breast tenderness and hot flashes. A mini vacation will also help you recover from the tiredness and stress and as I explain to my husband, if it takes 6 – 12 days for my hormones to balance it takes at least 14 – 21 days to fully de-stress.

In a fancy hotel that’s located somewhere sunny.

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