For many years physicians have recommended that women go on bed rest following embryo transfer during their in vitro fertilization (IVF) procedure. The concept was that the embryo is more likely to implant successfully in a resting woman. Some IVF clinics took the idea to an extreme, requiring two or even three days or more of bed rest. A 2011 study from Spain suggests that the practice may no longer be advised, however, since bed rest did not help women ultimately have a baby. In fact, too much rest may be harmful.
The study looked at 240 infertile women who were undergoing the IVF procedure. Researchers in Spain, led by Dr. Jose Remohi at the Instituto Valenciano de Infertilidad, Valencia, and the Universidad de Valencia, randomly assigned patients to bed rest or to get up immediately following the procedure. Half of the women were randomly assigned to lie still for 10 minutes after embryo insertion, while the other half were allowed to rise immediately. In the end, just 50 of the women who stayed on bed rest for 10 minutes delivered a baby, compared to 68 of the women in the other group.
Doctors are not sure why this unexpected result occurred. “It demonstrates that there is no need to keep patients at bed rest after a transfer. They can immediately get up and leave,” said Dr. Richard Reindollar, the chair of the department of obstetrics and gynecology at Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth. Dr. Reindollar additionally commented that “this paper showed that it certainly does not hurt patients to get up and walk away, and it suggests that it might hurt to keep them there.” The main message seems to be that IVF pregnancy rates are not affected by bed rest and that bed rest really isn’t required following embryo transfer.