How To Survive the Two-Week Wait (TWW) When Trying To Conceive

It can be hard not to let the two-week wait take over your life. Here's how to cope during this stressful time in your conception journey.

Medically reviewed by Sara Twogood, MD

The two-week wait (TWW) can be a time of high anxiety, worry, and frustration for people who are trying to conceive. In case you're not familiar with the phrase, the two-week wait is the time between ovulation and your expected period, which is when you can get an accurate home pregnancy test result.

If you're trying to conceive, these two weeks can be excruciating—perhaps even more so if you're undergoing fertility treatments, as your fear of failure and your hopes may be higher. There are many "what-ifs" floating around. What if the cycle fails? Will we try again? Can we afford to try again?

Whether you’re in the middle of fertility treatment or not, here are some two-week wait survival tips. They probably won't take away all the anxiety, but hopefully, they’ll make the 14 days a tad more bearable.

<p>JGI / Jamie Grill / Getty Images</p>

JGI / Jamie Grill / Getty Images

Stop Obsessing Over Possible Pregnancy Symptoms

OK, perhaps it’s too much to ask you to flat-out stop obsessing. But at the very least, take any potential signs of pregnancy with a grain of salt.

Many of the so-called early signs of pregnancy are caused by the hormones that are naturally present during the luteal phase leading up to your period. This may be why those months when you were sure you were pregnant because you felt pregnant, didn’t result in a positive test.

Doctors don't put very much weight on pregnancy symptoms during this stage. So try not to get too anxious worrying about whether you have the "signs."

Remember: Some people get pregnant and have no idea for weeks or even months because they don't have any noticeable pregnancy symptoms.

Keep Busy

Ever notice how time seems to slow down when you’re either really nervous about something or anxiously awaiting a deadline? Kind of like how the night before an exciting holiday has the same number of hours as every other night, but they tick by so much slower.

The two-week wait can be like this. One way to help the time go by faster, or at least at normal speed, is by keeping busy. This may mean working more, but it can also mean planning meaningful, distracting fun. Here are some ideas for how to spend your two-week wait:

  • Schedule a date with your partner or with some friends.

  • See a movie.

  • Run errands.

  • Learn a new hobby you’ve been meaning to pursue.

  • Read a good book.

  • Clean out a closet.

  • Learn a new recipe.

Ultimately, it doesn’t really matter how you spend the time, as long as you fill it with something to keep your mind and body busy.

Schedule Worry Time

Can you really schedule time to worry? The idea may sound strange, but it's actually possible. Even if you’re not consciously analyzing each twitch as a potential pregnancy sign, it may be lurking in the back of your brain. You may think that you're not obsessing during the two-week wait. But if you find yourself working slower, feeling spacey or distracted, or generally feeling more anxious, you may need to acknowledge some TWW worries.

One way to deal with this is to schedule 15 minutes once or twice a day to worry, obsess, or overthink. That might mean scouring your BBT chart for signs, or getting out your calendar and counting (for the tenth time) how many more days until you can take a pregnancy test. It might mean visiting online fertility forums to vent about your TWW frustrations or reading and commenting on fertility blogs.

Whatever you do, though, schedule the time. Put aside a set amount of time for your worry, then try to move on with your day.

For example, when you're actively cycling, you could allot worry time to take place during your injection. You can then plan on thinking through your worries as you go through the process—whether it's in the morning, evening, or split between both.

Expert Tip

It's healthier to schedule worry time for a short, focused period each day than it is to worry 24/7 for two weeks straight.

Get Support From People Who Understand

Having someone to talk to during your scheduled worry time, or any time for that matter, can help you cope during the TWW and after. It can also help you cope with other aspects of trying to conceive, whatever your journey looks like.

A few ways you can find support include:

  • Connecting with others in online forums or on social media

  • Teaching your friends and family how to support you

  • Joining an in-person support group

  • Finding a therapist who specializes in infertility

Online groups can be supportive if a "real-life" support group isn't available or doesn't sound appealing. Be aware, however, that forums and social media support groups can become a time-consuming rabbit hole. It can be helpful to schedule time for hanging out online so you don't get too entrenched.

Use Relaxation Techniques

Relaxation techniques can be a great help during this time. There are many ways to deal with anxiety, from breathing exercises to meditation. Guided imagery has been shown in research studies to help lower stress and anxiety levels. Yoga is another option, and some fertility clinics even offer "fertility yoga" classes. Acupuncture can help also with stress relief, and it may even improve your fertility.

Here's a list of ideas for ways to relax during the TWW:

  • Color with an adult coloring book or just on scratch paper.

  • Exercise doing whatever you love.

  • Get a massage.

  • Hike, swim, or participate in any outdoor activity that makes you happy.

  • Listen to music.

  • Organize your home.

  • Paint or draw.

  • Read a new book or reread a favorite.

  • Rewatch your favorite movie or TV show.

  • Sew, knit, or crochet (or learn how!).

  • Snuggle up with your dog or cat.

  • Take naps.

  • Walk outside in a park, around the block, inside a mall, in the woods.

Write Out Your Concerns

Sometimes, writing out all your "what-ifs" can help you get the racing thoughts out of your head. Ask yourself one of your what-if questions. Then, answer the question yourself.

The idea isn’t to talk yourself out of how you're feeling but to get to the core of what you’re worrying about. It’s almost like playing therapist with yourself. You’d be amazed how wise you can be at addressing your own anxieties.

It can also be helpful to have a conversation with your doctor. Ask them about your "worst case scenarios," and discuss how you would tackle these problems together. Knowing your plan Bs (and even plan Cs) can help you feel more in control throughout the process.

Go Easy on the Pregnancy Tests

Some people who are trying to conceive develop an addiction to taking pregnancy tests during the two-week wait. There's a big difference between waiting until your period is late and testing, compared with taking multiple tests before your period is even tardy.

If you've been purchasing pregnancy tests in bulk online because you go through them so quickly, or you've got a big stash in your home, consider cutting back. The rationale for taking an early pregnancy test is often that if you're pregnant, you can find out sooner—except it doesn't always work like that and may cause more stress than relief.

Wait the Full Two Weeks Before Taking a Pregnancy Test

Even early pregnancy tests won't give you accurate results until one or two days before your period is late. If you take it much earlier than that, you might get a false negative result—in other words, you are pregnant but the test is negative—and feel disappointed for no reason at all.

The best option? Wait until your period is at least one day late. That means if your period is due Tuesday, don't take a test until Wednesday or Thursday. If you have irregular cycles, consider waiting until the later end of your usual range. Otherwise, you're just setting yourself up for frustration and disappointment.

Expert Tip

If you are undergoing fertility treatment and are taking fertility medication, you should be especially careful about testing too early. If you take a home pregnancy test and get a false negative, you might think you can (or should) stop taking your medications—but this can jeopardize a pregnancy.

Home pregnancy tests are qualitative instead of quantitative, which means they only pick up a pregnancy once your beta-hCG (pregnancy hormone) level hits a certain number. By contrast, the blood test your health care provider can order will detect any level of beta-hCG in your blood.

The two-week wait can be stressful for people who are trying to conceive. Be compassionate with yourself during this time, and reach out for support from friends and family. You don't have to do it alone.

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