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Fertility tips

How to Help Implantation

Essential Takeaways

  • There’s not much you can do to interrupt the process of implantation. Exercise, sex, and moderate caffeine consumption are all most likely fine.
  • Anti-inflammatories are one of the few things you should avoid during the implantation window

If you’re trying to get pregnant, you might wonder if there’s anything you can do to help implantation. In most cases, the answer is no. This might be disappointing, but it’s also reassuring: embryos are resilient little things, and there isn’t much you can do to prevent a viable one from implanting. If you’re looking back over the last cycle wondering why you didn’t get pregnant, it probably had nothing to do with the wine you drank or the hard workout you did.

Below, we look into some of the most common things that women worry might hurt their chances for pregnancy and reveal whether there is any genuine cause for concern.

Can Anti-Inflammatories Prevent Implantation?

Anti-inflammatories are one of the only things that you might want to avoid after ovulation. They are not good for implantation, as they can affect the ability of the uterus to extend protrusions of the uterine lining to dock with the embryo. One study found an 80% increased risk of early miscarriage with anti-inflammatory use around the time of conception.

Anti-inflammatory medication is also not good for young embryos post-implantation. If you need to treat pain after ovulation, consider taking an acetaminophen-based painkiller like Tylenol, instead of an NSAID like Advil.

Can Exercise Prevent Implantation?

In a study published in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology, women undergoing IVF and who exercised 4 or more hours per week were twice as likely to have implantation failure. Keep in mind that these results may not apply to the general population, and that moderate exercise is good for fertility (and general health!).

It’s most likely fine to continue an exercise routine that you’re already accustomed to, or even to start a new one as long as you ramp up slowly (which is a good idea whether you’re trying to get pregnant or not). The embryo at this stage is half the size of a dust mite. Its activities are occurring at a molecular scale and are not affected by a single intense workout.

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There is one exception. If you habitually exercise a lot, don’t give yourself enough rest days, and don’t eat enough for your activity levels, exercise can have a negative impact on your menstrual health. The first sign that something is wrong is often a shortened luteal phase.

If you are doing a lot of intense exercise and you notice that your luteal phase is getting shorter than 10 days, consider backing off—especially during the two-week wait. Your luteal phase should be at least 10 days long to give enough time for implantation to occur.

Verdict: In most cases, exercise cannot prevent implantation.  

Can Caffeine Prevent Implantation?

Multiple studies have shown that the risk of miscarriage increases with caffeine intake. Women consuming greater than 200mg (the amount in one cup of coffee) had twice the miscarriage rate (25.5 percent) as compared to non-users (12.5 percent). Another study showed that women who drank more than 200mg of caffeine per day were half as likely to become pregnant per cycle as women who consumed less.

It’s not totally clear why large amounts of caffeine appear to have a negative impact on fertility, but preliminary studies in mice and monkeys suggest that caffeine inhibits egg maturation. An immature egg may not be fertilized and therefore cannot produce a pregnancy.

Verdict: One cup of coffee is fine.

Can Straining While Going to the Bathroom Prevent Implantation?

Progesterone is elevated during the luteal phase, and this can lead to things being a little backed up in the poop department. You wouldn’t be the first woman who wondered, while straining over the toilet, whether it’s possible to dislodge a nascent embryo from the uterine lining.

Good news: This is not going to happen. If constipation could prevent implantation, there wouldn’t be very many successful pregnancies, since it’s so common to be constipated during the two week wait! Before pregnancy, the uterus is completely closed, with all the walls touching each other. That makes for a very safe, secure environment for a newly implanted egg, and it would be almost impossible to physically shake it out of place.

Verdict: Nope. 

Can Sex Prevent Implantation?

The two-week wait is stressful, and what better way to relieve stress than sex? When an orgasm sends those dramatic contractions throughout your pelvis, all thoughts of when to test go out the window. But wait a second…can those contractions send anything else out the window?

Don’t worry, you’re not the first person to worry about this. Unfortunately, there haven’t been very many studies looking into it.

One study did find that sex at the time of implantation confers slightly lower chances of conception, though it did not take orgasm rates into account. But another study found that intercourse during an IVF cycle could actually improve pregnancy rates, since exposure to semen is thought to promote embryo development and implantation in animals.

Lots of women get pregnant after copious amounts of sex during the two-week wait, so unless you are having a hard time getting pregnant and want to try something different, or until more studies are done, you probably don’t need to change your current habits.

Some women experience bleeding around the time of implantation, and worry that sex may have somehow caused it, but there is no evidence for this.

Bottom line: unclear, but probably not. 

Can Falling or Getting Injured Prevent Implantation?

You fell off your bike/down the stairs/tripped on a banana peel during the two-week wait. Can that somehow shake the egg out of the uterine lining? Unless it was a very traumatic injury, you’re probably fine. Remember, the uterus is an extremely tight and enclosed space at this stage, and it would be very difficult for anything to fall out of it.

Bottom line: probably not.

Can a Hot Tub, Sauna, or Bath Prevent Implantation?

You wanted to get your mind off the two-week wait, and when your friend invited you to a spa day, it seemed like the perfect thing. You happily frolicked between the sauna, the hot tub, and the steam room until suddenly it hit you: can increased body temperature prevent implantation?

There aren’t any studies specifically looking at the impacts of these things on pregnancy rates, but if you want to be on the safe side, you can follow the same advice that pregnant women follow: keep the heat moderate (below 103 degrees Fahrenheit), try not to sit near the inlet that provides newly heated hot water, and take breaks every 10 minutes or so. And a warm bath is definitely okay!

Bottom line: It’s fine to be in a moderately heated environment for a short amount of time.

View sources

Maternal caffeine consumption during pregnancy and the risk of miscarriage: a prospective cohort study.

Caffeinated beverages and decreased fertility.

Intercourse at the Time of Implantation Confers Lower Chance of Conception

The effect of intercourse on pregnancy rates during assisted human reproduction

Exposure to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs during pregnancy and risk of miscarriage: population based cohort study

Effects of lifetime exercise on the outcome of in vitro fertilization.

Lindsay Meisel

Lindsay Meisel is the Head of Content at Ava. She has over a decade of experience writing about science, technology, and health, with a focus on women's health and the menstrual cycle. Her work has been featured on The Fertility Hour, The Birth Hour, The Breakthrough Journal, and The Rumpus.

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