In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a well-known fertility treatment. This is an advanced reproductive technique widely embraced by couples struggling with infertility. One frequent question IVF specialists have to answer is whether the procedure is painful.
This question isn’t easily answered by a “yes” or “no.” This article will explore the different dynamics of IVF, ranging from potentially strenuous or painful aspects of the treatment, to possible side effects. This knowledge will prepare you with what to expect, and boost your confidence and readiness to undertake the procedure.
IVF injections help stimulate the ovaries to produce many mature eggs that are later harvested and fertilized using sperms. They are a critical part of the process. In most circumstances, these injections do not involve much pain. However, it is imperative to note that pain varies from one individual to another. More sensitive individuals will experience more discomfort than less sensitive individuals.
All injections elicit various levels of stinging sensations. The sting is usually described as mildly painful; severe cases are rare. It is temporary pain and usually disappears in a matter of minutes. For individuals who are particularly uncomfortable with needles, it’s advisable to have a loved one close by for physical and mental support.
The IVF specialist may ask you to inject a particular medication intramuscularly (through the muscles) or subcutaneously (via the skin). These injections help produce mature eggs that are later harvested and fertilized. The injections cause different hormonal activities within the body, affecting how you feel. Here is a comprehensive list of common side effects of IVF injection:
- Mood swings
- Soreness or bruising at the injection site
- Reduced or increased appetite
- Menstrual spotting or bleeding
- Decreased libido
- Hot flashes
- Breast tenderness
These side effects are temporary and manageable. Though very rare, some women have had significant reactions after the injection, such as ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome. OHSS happens when fluid leaks into the abdomen due to a woman having too many follicles growing.
Be aware of this condition so that if you happen to be one of the rare cases in which it develops, you are prepared to take action. Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome symptoms include nausea, weight gain, and bloating. Proper hydration and rest is the most common treatment for OHSS. On rare occasions, OHSS can be severe and necessitate hospital treatment.
Once you receive your IVF injections, the fertility experts will retrieve the eggs. They will insert an ultrasound probe through the vaginal canal with a needle attached. The needle is used to draw fluid and egg follicles from the ovaries. Since this process is invasive and can be painful, IVF specialists use anesthesia to ensure you do not experience discomfort.
Some women report lower abdominal pains similar to menstrual cramping after this phase of IVF. You may experience spotting or feel a bit sore, but these symptoms should clear within 5 to 7 days. If you experience increased abdominal circumference, difficulty breathing, or rapid weight gain, inform your doctor immediately as this could indicate OHSS.
Once the eggs are retrieved, viable, healthy eggs are put in an incubator and fertilized the same day. The eggs are closely monitored, and within 18 to 20 hours, the IVF experts separate the fertilized eggs from the unfertilized ones. Fertilized egg then becomes a zygote that develops into an embryo, and later grows into blastocysts ready for implantation.
The experts use a small catheter to transfer the blastocyst into the body. This procedure is painless. However, you will be given valium to remain calm and comfortable. On embryo transfer day, the specialist will advise you to have a full bladder to allow accurate embryo placement. Some women have reported mild to moderate cramping days after the procedure but nothing serious.
Your fertility team will conduct a pregnancy test 9 to 10 days later to determine if the process was successful. You can ask your fertility team to save the unused embryos for you if you ever want more children.
Though it is important to be hopeful, it is also good to be realistic. It may take more than one IVF attempt to achieve success. Failed attempts may come with emotional pain; allow yourself to experience and work through it. It is normal to experience grief, but you can involve a fertility counselor or a therapist for further support and guidance.
The IVF process cannot be classified as a severely painful medical procedure. Some procedures have been found to involve mild to moderate pain, which is largely dependent on the sensitivity of the individual. However, IVF experts generally ensure you do not experience unbearable discomfort.
IVF injections may cause stinging sensations varying from one person to another, depending on a person’s sensitivity. The injections may cause a few side effects, but some people do not experience any side effects. The egg retrieval procedure is more invasive, and IVF experts use anesthesia to ensure you do not experience severe pain and discomfort.
If you are searching for IVF experts around you, don’t hesitate to contact a facility like MCRM Fertility Clinic today.