'I spent £20k on IVF - it sparked my new paper pregnancy test business' (2022)

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Like a lot of women, Lara Solomon believed she would end up being a mother at some point, one day.

It wasn't until she hit 45 and was still single that she knew she had to take things into her own hands.

She went on to fork out £20,000 on IVF and although it was unsuccessful, the exhaustive process sparked the idea for her next business venture.

The 47-year-old, who previously ran a children's book company, was sick of using so many plastic pregnancy tests when trying to conceive and was dumbfounded by how many other women she saw taking countless tests just hours apart that would ultimately end up in landfill - with one study suggesting 12.5 million home pregnancy tests are completed in the UK each year.

When Lara was stuck in hotel quarantine in Sydney last year and after seeing yet another negative pregnancy test, she thought there had to be a better way - and there came Hoopsy - an eco-friendly paper pregnancy test that uses a strip test method.

While Lara hopes it means women who are trying to conceive can make more sustainable choices, she hopes to raise awareness of fertility hurdles that some younger women may not realise.

"I didn't feel pressure to have a baby - I always just thought I've got time and I never really stopped to think about it properly," Lara, who is from Salisbury but moved to Sydney for her ex-husband who she married at 33 and later divorced, tells the Mirror.

"I always thought 'I'll meet someone else'. I always thought I'd have children and get married again. And I always thought I had loads of time.

"My sister had her last child at 43 so you think maybe it runs in the family. I never thought about it and the impact."

It wasn't until a friend of hers, a year younger, began IVF - which is one of several techniques available to help people with fertility problems have a baby - that Lara suddenly felt confronted by her biological clock.

"I thought, actually I don't really have any more time and I looked into it, and they only let you use your own eggs up to the age of 46. So it was just like, oh okay, so if I really want this I've got to do it now," Lara continues.

"It was all a bit rushed and it sounds ridiculous, but it was just a sudden realisation that I was actually older than I felt."

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Lara met with a private doctor in August 2020 and had her eggs harvested three months later in November following a period of brutal hormone injections.

Despite what felt like a 'million' scans, doctors didn't pick up that Lara had a perimenopause ovary, which lowered her chances of being able to conceive. On top of this, of three eggs extracted, only one matured.

Chances of her being able to conceive were as low as one per cent, and devastatingly, the IVF didn't work.

Lara remembers finding out about the disappointment at the beach, which left her in floods of tears for days.

"I guess you always hope because if you don't have hope, then what's the point in doing it?" she asks.

"You hear all these stories - like I have a girlfriend who only had one egg from IVF, it fertilised and made it to day five - she's now got a daughter.

"You hear all these kinds of stories and think why can't that happen to me? And then when it doesn't, it's just really, really upsetting and it's a shock.

"Even though you've been told that the chances are slim you always think it could be you... why can't it be me?"

After realising how difficult it was for her to get pregnant with IVF, Lara tried embryo donation at a clinic in Barcelona, Spain, in June 2021.

Women in Spain get paid around one thousand euros to donate their eggs, which the entrepreneur agrees with due to how gruelling the process can be.

Doctors matched an embryo with Lara's physical attributes and she waited for 10-days later to see the outcome.

"The test was negative again. I was disbelieving," Laura, who then had a blood test to confirm the result, admits.

"I really really thought it would happen and they didn’t know why.

"I spent a day and a half crying and then I was worried about all the money I was spending on it and amid Covid, I had to keep paying for PCR tests to travel too."

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Eight weeks later she tried embryo donation again - this time with the support of her brother at the clinic with her.

She had told all of her family and close friends that she was expecting to become pregnant as she felt she needed support doing the process alone.

When doctors took photos from the ultrasounds, the transfer looked promising, leading Lara to believe it was finally going to work.

She flew back to Sydney - where she continues to live as she loves it so much despite splitting from her ex - and carried out her 14-day hotel isolation.

Whilst alone in her room with nowhere else to go, whether or not she could be pregnant was all she could think about.

She tested early on days eight and nine, and on day 10 - all came back negative.

But when a doctor was sent in covid-secure gear to take Lara's blood test, they found her to be pregnant.

"I was like 'this is unbelievable, this is great," Lara says.

"I had spent all of Monday crying and this was now like Wednesday or Thursday and it was suddenly like 'wow it's happening.'"

She was experiencing morning sickness but later discovered this was due to the progesterone drugs she was taking.

When her blood was tested out of quarantine, her HCG levels were back down, indicating she had miscarried.

"It sounds funny but I was getting really excited about being sick because that's the sign of pregnancy but actually, I wasn't pregnant. It was hard," Lara recalls.

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Despite the emotional and physical turmoil, Lara is still undecided if she can put herself through it again.

"I always thought I'd be a mother and I've had so many people over the years say 'you'd make a great mother,'" Lara says, who can extract eggs until she is 51 - which concerns her as to how old she would be by the time the child turned 18.

"If you haven’t been through it, people don’t realise. I just don’t know now. I have six nieces and nephews under 11 - maybe I can get my mothering fix from them."

Lara has looked into adoption, which can also take years, she says, and into fostering - which is another challenge as authorities say she can only leave the country two weeks a year, prompting further difficulties as her family is based in the UK.

When trying to conceive, Lara admits to only using around 15 tests in total, compared to other women who were using 10 each time cycle, she says.

"I was in these Facebook support groups and loads of women were uploading pictures of rows of tests lined up with different time frames," Lara explains.

"I was just shocked how much plastic was being used."

She searched online to see if there were plastic-free pregnancy tests out there but only found one company in the US that had discontinued its product.

She sought out a manufacturer and began developing a paper design - with Hoopsy officially launching just a fortnight ago.

"I was thinking, 'we could just do a bigger version of the strip test.' And I was just like, 'why couldn't that be an option?'" Lara says in disbelief that it hadn't been achieved before.

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The paper test can be cut in half - where the part the person urinates on goes in the bin and the other half in paper recycling.

The urine then moves up the card to give the result, and once dried out, it becomes a solid piece of card.

The tests, approved for sale in the UK and Europe while Lara is awaiting Australian approval, have an HCG sensitivity of 25mIU/ml and are over 99 per cent accurate from the day of the expected period.

Clinical trials have taken place to prove the accuracy and laboratory tests to ensure the sensitivity levels of the tests.

While Lara doesn't consider herself an eco-warrior, she makes mindful choices when it comes to being kind on the planet, recycles, and as she swims in the ocean, is alarmed by how much plastic she sees in the water.

"We don't really need this to be in plastic and it doesn't have to be that way. Why can't it be different?" Lara adds.

Her long-term hope is to take over from the midstream plastic pregnancy tests but also to raise awareness about fertility hurdles for some women.

"I never thought it might be an issue (fertility) and always thought it would just happen - I think a lot of women think like that," Lara raises, who also highlights how some companies offer payment plans for egg freezing.

"When I was younger I thought there were always options, but IVF is no guarantee.

"I've spent quite a lot of money on IVF, probably about £20,000. I guess at the end of the day, how important is money really when it comes to having a baby if that's important to you? If you leave it longer, it's actually going to cost you so much more.

"Getting women to think about that, while they are young enough that they still could freeze their eggs if they think that's an option or, you know, just start to think about it... the earlier you're aware of these things, the more you can do about it."

Hoopsy pregnancy tests are available in Kamsons Pharmacy stores from next week and in the next fortnight, Chemist4U. They’re available to buy on the website with free shipping at www.hoopsy.co in packs of three tests for £14.99.

This article has been updated after publication to remove the reference of Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) approval.

Do you have an interesting story to starting your business? Please get in touch at saffron.otter@reachplc.com.

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FAQs

Does IVF affect pregnancy test? ›

False positive: This doesn't happen often, but is still a possibility. This more commonly happens in case where an HcG trigger has been used (in cases of ovulation induction cycle, IVF, or in some cases where a stimulated embryo transfer cycle is done).

Are pregnancy tests accurate after IVF? ›

Because home pregnancy tests may be performed too early and do not measure the actual amount of hCG in the body, they are simply not accurate after IVF.

Why is my pregnancy test negative after IVF? ›

These tests cannot measure a level lower than 25, so they do not become accurate until a few days after embryo implantation. A negative result before then is meaningless, since there would not be a high enough level of hCG to detect even if you were pregnant. If your test is negative, you should retest after 2 days.

Can IVF cause a false positive? ›

When used in the IVF or IUI setting, the LH component can also trigger a false positive result but for different reasons. While an hCG injection triggers a false positive by introducing synthetic hCG into the system, a surge in LH can do the same because the two hormones are so structurally similar.

When did you get a positive pregnancy test after IVF? ›

For many, transfer feels like the moment when things “click.” However, when it comes to how quickly you can take a pregnancy test after IVF, the answer is usually seven days after embryo transfer.

Can progesterone cause false positive? ›

While the most reliable contraceptives on the market today are hormone based, the hormones in these methods are usually estrogen and progesterone. Neither estrogen or progesterone impact pregnancy tests.

Does a positive pregnancy test mean successful implantation? ›

Implantation must occur for this hormone to be produced. If you get a positive result on a pregnancy test, then you know that implantation has taken place (since your body had started to produce the hCG hormone, and the test detected this hormone).

Can you get false negative pregnancy test IVF? ›

As the pregnancy advances and more hCG is present in the body, the chance of a false negative decreases. Another factor to take into consideration is whether or not you have taken an hCG trigger injection to induce ovulation. These injections are used in the majority of fertility cycles (IVF and IUI).

How do you calculate weeks of pregnancy after IVF? ›

Due date calculation for IVF pregnancies
  1. IVF with own eggs (with or without ICSI) — Egg retrieval date + 266 days (or 38 weeks)
  2. IVF with fresh donor egg cycle (with or without ICSI) — Egg retrieval date + 266 days (or 38 weeks)
  3. Fresh donor embryo cycle — Egg retrieval date + 266 days (or 38 weeks)

What should be the hCG level after 12 days of embryo transfer? ›

Considering a day 5 or Blastocyst stage embryo has been transferred and hCG levels are tested at least 12-14 days after embryo transfer, a value of more than 100 mIU/ml is considered as a strong positive result. A value of <5 mIU/ml is considered as negative result.

What causes late implantation in IVF? ›

If an embryo has a chromosomal anomaly, the abnormal genetic material may also cause the embryo to implant later than usual. Another theory is that some factor in the uterine lining could cause problems during implantation and that this could lead to miscarriage.

What is good hCG level after IVF? ›

With detailed statistical analysis (ROC curve) they concluded that an hCG level of 76 mIU/mL was a suitable cut-off point for predicting viable pregnancy with 80% sensitivity and 82% specificity.

Can you have late implantation with IVF? ›

Usually, they implant within five days. This is referred to as late or delayed implantation. This slight delay has several advantages, including: Giving the uterus time to recover from the effects of IVF the medications used to stimulate egg production.

What should you not do before pregnancy test? ›

Don't drink too much water, or any liquid, before taking a pregnancy test. Excess fluids can impact the accuracy of the test results, so if your urine is diluted or pale yellow, hold off on taking a test. Diluted urine tends to also have diluted hCG levels which can skew the test results.

What could cause a false positive pregnancy test? ›

A false-positive might happen if you had a pregnancy loss soon after the fertilized egg attached to your uterine lining (biochemical pregnancy) or you take a pregnancy test too soon after taking a fertility drug that contains HCG .

What hCG level indicates twins after IVF? ›

The range for singletons is 5 – 397 and for twins it is 48 – 683. As you can see, there is a big overlap between the first hCG level in singleton and twins. What this means is that even if you have a first hCG level of 397, it could be a singleton pregnancy.

How light can a positive pregnancy test be? ›

Waiting for the results of a pregnancy test can be agonizing. If the result shows a colored line, even a faint one, then the test is likely positive. If the results show a faint, colorless line, then this may be an evaporation line.

Does a faint line mean pregnant? ›

Any positive line, no matter how faint, means your result is pregnant. Levels of hCG in your body will increase over the course of your pregnancy. If you test early, your hCG levels may be still be low and you'll see a faint positive line.

Can progesterone mess up a pregnancy test? ›

Progesterone can also help support pregnancy if your natural levels are low. Unlike the trigger shot, progesterone won't mess with a home pregnancy test.

What produces hCG when not pregnant? ›

An elevated β-hCG in the absence of viable pregnancy can occur for multiple reasons and has a broad differential diagnosis including miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, pituitary hCG production, trophoblastic disease and phantom hCG.

Can hormones cause a positive pregnancy test? ›

When you get pregnant, your body produces a hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin, or hCG. Home pregnancy tests look for that hormone in your urine. If hCG is present, you should get a positive test result when you pee on a stick. But hCG levels start out very low and increase over time.

Can an early positive mean twins? ›

If you get a positive test, especially a really dark positive, days before your period is even due, that may be one of the early signs of twins! The more babies you're carrying, the higher and faster your human chorionic gonadotropin hormone (hCG) rises.

What are signs of unsuccessful implantation? ›

When an embryo doesn't implant, you might experience the normal symptoms associated with menstruation, such as:
  • Cramping.
  • Bleeding.
  • Headaches.
  • Nausea.
  • Breast tenderness.
  • Mood changes.
  • Pain in your lower back.
1 Aug 2022

How quickly does hCG rise after implantation? ›

After implantation occurs, hCG levels will double approximately every 48-72 hours. hCG levels will peak within the first 8-11 weeks of pregnancy, and then will begin dropping off from there and plateau for the remainder of pregnancy.

Does failed IVF delay your period? ›

How long are periods typically delayed after IVF? Hi, Welcome to icliniq.com. Actually, it can be delayed by one week approximately due to hormone fluctuations and sometimes more, but as you mentioned, you tried to conceive between your ovulation days, but then you did the test, and they were negative.

What should be the hCG level after 14 days of embryo transfer? ›

If the hCG level was greater than 600, the multiple pregnancy rate was 100% (7/7). Conclusions: These data support the hypothesis that hCG levels greater than 200 mIU/ml on 14 days post-ET are more likely to have ongoing pregnancies; hCG levels greater than 600 have a high likelihood of a multiple gestation pregnancy.

Can you have a negative pregnancy test then a positive the next day? ›

It's possible to get a negative pregnancy test result followed by a positive result, especially if you tested early. This is because hCG levels rise rapidly in the first few days after implantation. It's also possible to get a positive test result followed by a negative result.

What week are most IVF babies born? ›

Results: The mean gestational age at delivery of the IVF group was 38.13 +/- 1.72 weeks, slightly shorter than spontaneously conceived singletons at 38.65 +/- 1.79 weeks.

What are the chances of getting pregnant first time with IVF? ›

The national average for women younger than 35 able to become pregnant by in-vitro fertilization (IVF) on the first try (meaning, the first egg retrieval) is 55%.

Why are IVF babies bigger? ›

IVF babies born from frozen embryos are heavier and result in longer pregnancies than those born from fresh embryos, research suggests. A study presented at the British Fertility Society annual meeting says transferring frozen embryos may lead to healthier babies.

How often is hCG checked after IVF? ›

A pregnancy test, in an IVF cycle, is generally scheduled approximately two weeks after an embryo transfer. This involves a blood test to measure the hormone of pregnancy - hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin). If positive (greater then 5 mIU/ml) the test is repeated two days later and it should rise appropriately.

What is a good first beta after IVF? ›

A strong beta number at 17 days after fertilization (14dp3dt or 12dp5dt) would be over 200 mIU/mL (or IU/L, they are equivalent). One study of 523 IVF pregnancies found that betas over 200 IU/L at this time had the greatest chance of success.

What are the symptoms of rising hCG levels? ›

In the first 2 weeks, women may experience light spotting, breast soreness, mood swings, nausea, or bloating. These symptoms are due to an increase in an important hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG).

What's the longest implantation can last? ›

In most cases, implantation spotting only lasts from a few hours to a couple days, but some women report having implantation spotting for up to seven days. You may experience some light cramping and soreness during implantation.

What should you not do during implantation? ›

It's recommended that you avoid strenuous physical activities like heavy weight-lifting or high-impact cardio during your two-week wait as it could lead to uterine contractions and affect the implantation process. After the first few days of our waiting period, you can do some light exercising like walking or swimming.

What helps embryo attach to uterus naturally? ›

Progesterone is what stabilizes the uterine lining and makes it “sticky” enough for an embryo to attach. Without enough progesterone, it can be more difficult for an embryo to successfully implant. Progesterone stabilizes the uterine lining and makes it “sticky” enough for an embryo to attach.

What is a good hCG level at 4 weeks? ›

The average levels of hCG in a pregnant woman's blood are: 3 weeks: 6 – 70 IU/L. 4 weeks: 10 - 750 IU/L. 5 weeks: 200 - 7,100 IU/L.

Does folic acid decrease hCG levels? ›

The addition of folic acid to the perfusate mitigated the decrease in hCG.

Do hCG levels have to double every 48 hours? ›

“A normal blood level for hCG on the day a period is due (14 days after ovulation) is 40 to 120 mIU/mL,” Dr. Matthews says. Levels should then double every 48 hours from weeks four to six, but that isn't the case for everyone. hCG can vary from person to person and still mean a pregnancy is normal.

What is the most common day for implantation? ›

When does implantation occur? In most successful pregnancies, implantation occurs 8 – 10 DPO (days after ovulation). The most common day is 9 DPO. While it's possible for implantation to occur between 6 – 12 days after ovulation, implantation earlier than 8 days after ovulation is rare.

At what stage is an embryo implanted in IVF? ›

IVF embryos are usually transferred on the second or third day after egg retrieval, at the four to eight-cell stage. The IVF embryos must continue to grow for two or three more days to reach the blastocyst transfer stage (100-150 cells) before they are ready for implantation into the uterine wall (endometrium).

Do frozen embryos take longer to implant? ›

According to the researchers, the success of frozen embryos can be explained by the fact that frozen embryos take longer than fresh embryos to implant in the uterus. This is important because it allows hormone levels in the uterus to return to normal before the embryo is implanted.

Can stress affect hCG levels? ›

In conclusion, stress-related hormones affect placental HCG secretion in vitro. The involvement of these factors in impairing early pregnancy development is suggested.

What happens if you pee on a pregnancy test longer than 5 seconds? ›

Five seconds feels a bit longer when aiming your pee, but pulling the stick away too quickly or not leaving it in your urine stream long enough can affect the validity of the result. If you choose to dip, use a clean, dry container stable enough to hold the test and urine without tipping.

Can dehydration affect hCG levels? ›

Although not common, dehydration can cause spotting in pregnancy. It's believed some women experience spotting when dehydrated, as their hCG levels temporarily stop increasing, or dip. Once re-hydration is reached, hCG levels level out and spotting may stop.

How long does it take for hCG to show up in urine? ›

hCG is a hormone produced by your placenta when you are pregnant. It appears shortly after the embryo attaches to the wall of the uterus. If you are pregnant, this hormone increases very rapidly. If you have a 28 day menstrual cycle, you can detect hCG in your urine 12-15 days after ovulation.

Can too much urine cause a false negative pregnancy test? ›

If you have too little, (if you took the test too early or diluted your urine), it won't be detected. If you have too much, (if you took the test too late), the test strip may not be able to bond to any of the molecules, possibly showing a negative result.

Can I get a negative pregnancy test at night and positive in the morning? ›

If you do decide to take an at-home pregnancy test at night, it's important to keep in mind that many factors can impact the results. A negative test at night might be followed by a positive test in the morning.

How rare is a false positive pregnancy test? ›

A false-positive test result only happens less than 1% of the time, but when it does, it can make the following days or weeks confusing before you realize you're not actually pregnant.

Can an ovarian cyst cause a false positive pregnancy test? ›

Pregnancy test: A corpus luteum cyst can cause a false positive on a pregnancy test. Ultrasound: This imaging test uses high-frequency sound waves to create an image of your uterus and ovaries.

Can I do a pregnancy test 10 days after embryo transfer? ›

Ideally, you should wait until you've missed your period. This will give you the most accurate results. But let's be honest — it's hard to be patient. So, if you're itching to test, wait at least 10 days after the transfer.

Are hCG levels higher IVF? ›

Usually, fresh embryo transfers have a faster rate of rising hCG levels than frozen embryo transfers. However, fresh embryo transfers may involve elevated levels of hCG due to the trigger shots used during the stimulation phase.

How long after embryo transfer does hCG rise? ›

Results: The hCG level grows exponentially in the course of the 9th to 17th day after an embryo transfer (ET). The probability of one child delivery after the transfer of one embryo overdue after prolonged cultivation (96 or 120 hrs) grows with the average and above-average hCG values on the day of the draw.

What should you not do during the two week wait? ›

During the two-week wait, it's better to err on the side of caution. Avoid having a drink, smoking, or any other activity that could be harmful to a brand new pregnancy. It's fine to continue exercising if you already have a workout routine, but now might not be the time to take up a new, intense form of exercise.

What's the most sensitive home pregnancy test? ›

The First Response Early Result wand test is the most sensitive home pregnancy test available in the US. We also found it very easy to use and read.

What are the signs of successful implantation? ›

What Are the Signs That Implantation Has Occurred? Implantation is an essential early stage in conception, when cells attaches to the uterine wall. Signs of implantation include bleeding, cramps, discharge, and breast tenderness, and these can be early signs of pregnancy.

What hCG level indicates twins after IVF? ›

The range for singletons is 5 – 397 and for twins it is 48 – 683. As you can see, there is a big overlap between the first hCG level in singleton and twins. What this means is that even if you have a first hCG level of 397, it could be a singleton pregnancy.

How often is hCG checked after IVF? ›

A pregnancy test, in an IVF cycle, is generally scheduled approximately two weeks after an embryo transfer. This involves a blood test to measure the hormone of pregnancy - hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin). If positive (greater then 5 mIU/ml) the test is repeated two days later and it should rise appropriately.

What is a good hCG after IVF? ›

With detailed statistical analysis (ROC curve) they concluded that an hCG level of 76 mIU/mL was a suitable cut-off point for predicting viable pregnancy with 80% sensitivity and 82% specificity.

How do you calculate how many weeks pregnant you are after IVF? ›

Due date calculation for IVF pregnancies
  1. IVF with own eggs (with or without ICSI) — Egg retrieval date + 266 days (or 38 weeks)
  2. IVF with fresh donor egg cycle (with or without ICSI) — Egg retrieval date + 266 days (or 38 weeks)
  3. Fresh donor embryo cycle — Egg retrieval date + 266 days (or 38 weeks)

What are the symptoms of rising hCG levels? ›

In the first 2 weeks, women may experience light spotting, breast soreness, mood swings, nausea, or bloating. These symptoms are due to an increase in an important hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG).

What should you not do during implantation? ›

It's recommended that you avoid strenuous physical activities like heavy weight-lifting or high-impact cardio during your two-week wait as it could lead to uterine contractions and affect the implantation process. After the first few days of our waiting period, you can do some light exercising like walking or swimming.

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