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In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a very popular and common advanced reproductive technique (ART) for individuals and couples struggling with infertility. If you’ve never undergone IVF treatment, it’s only natural to have a few questions.

You may be wondering: Is IVF painful? Do the injections have side effects? Is the embryo transfer painful? In this article, we hope to answer these questions and put your concerns to rest. That way, you can go into your IVF treatment confident and ready, knowing exactly what to expect.

Are IVF Injections Painful?

IVF injections are a critical piece in the IVF process. These injections help stimulate your ovaries to produce mature eggs that are then harvested and fertilized with sperm. In the majority of circumstances, IVF injections don’t involve much pain. At the same time, it’s important to note that pain is subjective. It can vary from individual to individual. This means that someone who is more sensitive may experience a higher level of discomfort than someone who is less sensitive.

All injections can elicit a slight but temporary stinging sensation. This is often the most pain you will feel during this phase of the IVF process. However, at ELITE IVF, we understand that needles can make some individuals uncomfortable. If you’re unsure how you will react to the needles, bring a loved one or friend with you to your injection appointment to help support you throughout this process.

IVF Injection Side Effects

What about after your IVF injection has taken place? Are there any IVF injection side effects to be aware of? During your IVF process, you may be asked to inject specific medications either subcutaneously (via the skin) or intramuscularly (via the muscle).

These injections help your body produce mature eggs that are then used for sperm fertilization. Within the body, hormones act as messengers. They can inhibit or stimulate certain processes. As such, they can have varying effects on how you feel, as well as different effects depending on the person. Common IVF injection side effects may include:

  • Bruising or soreness at the site of injection
  • Mood swings
  • Increased or reduced appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Hot flashes
  • Nausea
  • Bloating
  • Breast tenderness
  • Decreased libido
  • Menstrual bleeding or spotting

Some women experience some or none of these side effects. Usually, these side effects are manageable — they are also temporary. In very rare circumstances, some women experience other reactions to these injections, such as Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS). This syndrome happens when a woman has too many follicles growing, causing fluid to leak into the abdomen. OHSS symptoms include bloating, nausea, and weight gain. Most cases can be treated at home through rest and proper hydration. In very rare and more severe cases, hospital treatment may be necessary.

Is Egg Retrieval Painful?

After IVF injections, your fertility team will perform the egg retrieval process. This involves the insertion of an ultrasound probe in the vaginal canal. A needle is attached to the end of this probe which draws the egg follicles and fluid from the ovaries. 

You may wonder, is egg retrieval for IVF painful?

Throughout this procedure, anesthesia is used so you won’t feel any discomfort. However, some women report cramping in the few days that follow this phase of IVF. This cramping is very similar to what many women experience during menstruation. You may also feel a bit sore and experience some spotting.  Within 5-7 days, all of these symptoms should resolve.

If you experience rapid weight gain, difficulty breathing, or increased abdominal circumference, contact your doctor and fertility team right away. While these side effects are very rare, they could indicate OHSS. 

Is Embryo Transfer Painful?

The embryo transfer stage involves the placement of healthy embryos into the uterus. Before this takes place, you will take estrogen and progesterone daily to prepare your body for pregnancy.  The embryo transfer phase does not involve anesthesia. However, it’s recommended to arrive at this procedure with a full bladder to ensure accurate placement of the embryo and to allow easier access to the transfer catheter.

Overall, this process feels very similar to a pap smear or vaginal ultrasound.  So, is the embryo transfer painful? Typically, no. Most women only experience mild to moderate cramping in the days following the procedure.

You will then undergo a scheduled pregnancy test with your fertility team 9-10 days after your embryo transfer to determine if pregnancy has taken place.

Emotional Pain: Grief After An IVF Failure

The IVF process can be tough. You want to remain hopeful, but also realistic. Usually, it takes at least three rounds of IVF to be successful when using your own eggs (while with egg donation, at ELITE IVF for example, one attempt could suffice). However, it can still be a very emotional time, especially when a round of IVF is not successful.  During this time, allow yourself to feel any feelings that arise.

Grieving after IVF failure is completely normal. Take time for yourself, ensuring you practice self-compassion, and know you’re not alone. Many individuals and couples are going through very similar experiences. IVF depression is also very common among women going through this process. After failed IVF rounds, you may find it difficult to stay optimistic.

The hormones involved in the IVF process may also cause temporary feelings of depression and anxiety. Throughout this process, talking to a therapist or fertility counsellor can help you navigate through your emotions and process them. You may also want to join IVF support groups and connect with other couples or individuals going through similar emotions.

At ELITE IVF, we are passionate and work hard at making your baby dreams come true. Through every step of the way, we’re here for you. If you have any further questions regarding the IVF process and the procedures involved, simply reach out to us today or fill out our online form to schedule your free phone consultation. 

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Speak with a fertility specialist at ELITE IVF today!