Starting an IVF Journey? Will It Be Painful?
If you and your partner have decided to pursue in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment for help conceiving, you’ve likely done extensive research on the process, probabilities, and protocols. However, one question may still loom large in your mind that research often doesn’t address – will IVF be painful?
It’s a paramount concern to clarify upfront. Undergoing fertility treatments injects enough emotional turbulence into lives without adding unnecessary physical pain on top.
Rest assured, the entire medical team caring for you aims to make your IVF journey as comfortable and stress-free as possible from start to finish. However, it would be misleading to suggest that the procedures present zero discomfort. Some degree of cramping or achiness may arise on occasion before, during, or after egg retrieval surgery, embryo transfer, or while taking injectable ovarian stimulation drugs.
But how intense and persistent might this discomfort become? Well, that depends most on your pain perceptions and thresholds, which differ substantially for each unique woman. While one could classify a hot flash as barely bothersome, others describe the same hot flash as hitting like a flamethrower!
The best advice is to educate yourself thoroughly on what sensations are typical during IVF without magnifying fears excessively if you know you tend towards anxieties or negative thought patterns. Stress hormones exacerbate pain, so aim for positive thinking patterns instead. Recognize that some twinging and cramping may surface briefly but seldom reach levels requiring strong pain medications or signals of danger.
Keep focused on each milestone and day-to-day step without projecting too far ahead or worrying over what-if scenarios. Trust your medical team to guide you through skillfully if concerns arise. Their goal is always to ensure your protection and comfort on this quest to start your family.
Now, let’s explore the main IVF steps and what to expect along the way…
Egg Retrieval – What to Expect
The egg retrieval procedure is a crucial step in the IVF process and the stage with the highest likelihood of causing some discomfort. However, it is essential to understand the process and know that any pain felt is generally expected and manageable.
It is necessary to monitor your ovaries and egg development before the procedure. When the eggs are ready, a final hormone injection will be administered to prepare them for maturation and retrieval. The retrieval surgery usually follows 34-36 hours after that.
Here is an overview of the step-by-step egg retrieval surgery process:
If you will be fasting the night before, the clinic will provide specific instructions about what to eat, drink, and take before your surgery. A fast is vital to prepare the body correctly.If you will be fasting the night before, the clinic will provide specific instructions about what to eat, drink, and take before your surgery. A fast is important to prepare the body correctly.
The procedure begins with inserting an IV line into your arm vein. Simple injections of medications into your bloodstream are possible with this device.
To keep you comfortable during the procedure, you will be given antibiotics as well as sedation and pain medication through an IV. These medicines generally cause patients to sleep, relax, and feel slightly unaware.
An ultrasound machine guides a thin needle into each ovary to identify mature eggs. The eggs are then carefully withdrawn through the needle. Patients remain lying down throughout, monitored by nurses. With adequate relaxing medications, most women do not notice pain during the 10-20 minute ultrasound-guided retrieval procedure.
Following retrieval, you will remain at the clinic for around 1-2 hours while the sedation wears off. Initially, you’re likely to feel sleepy, weak, and nauseated. There will also be cramping and abdominal discomfort afterward, but you are unlikely to experience severe pain. Before discharge, your clinic team carefully tracks your progress to ensure you feel well enough.
Some grogginess, bloating, and abdominal tenderness can persist for 3-5 days after retrieval. Your doctor may advise having someone at home help you out initially. Over-the-counter pain medications (acetaminophen/NSAIDs) typically relieve postoperative cramps and aches that occur. Feel free to ask your IVF doctor for specific guidance. After intensive egg retrieval, getting lots of rest is also recommended so your body can heal.
As a result, while egg retrieval does involve some physical stress and can result in minor discomfort for a short period, the procedure is very safe with anesthesia and medications to minimize any significant pain. If you have any concerns or experience anything unexpected, consult your IVF specialist promptly for their expertise. Stay positive, knowing this gifted team works hard so you can progress on your path to pregnancy and parenthood.