The most common question being asked by people is IVF painful. Experience shared by each patient while going through the In Vitro Fertilization procedure as fertility treatment greatly varies, for some people, it isn’t painful at all, and others may experience mild to moderate degrees of discomfort, pain, and cramps in some parts of the process, these are usually the side effects from the fluctuation of hormones caused by the injections which make IVF painful.
Curious about is IVF painful?
To exactly know about the potential to cause pain throughout the treatment, you need to understand the entire procedure step-wise, that are as follows:
Screening and Evaluation
In this step the cause behind infertility is diagnosed to explore your treatment options and depending upon the case, the couple is offered the available advanced fertility treatment options. The uterus, eggs, and sperm are assessed thoroughly to know about the capacity of the uterine cavity, uterine wall thickness, ovarian reserves, available time to conceive, and quality of gametes.
This step is usually painless unless the woman has to go through Hysterosalpingography in which dye is inserted via a catheter pushed through the vagina into the uterus, or other invasive procedures for testing tubal patency. These invasive diagnostic tests can cause cramps lasting from a few minutes to many hours after the procedure.
Ovarian Induction and Fertility Medications
During this step, most women experience bloating and other unpleasant side effects, but they are often mild to moderate, causing bloating, discomfort, lower abdominal pain, and cramps. This is due to fluctuations of hormonal levels in the body and can easily be controlled by taking acetaminophen and applying ice on the IVF injection site.
Synthetic hormones are injected to cause maturation of eggs in the ovaries, normally a single egg matures in each cycle but during this procedure, to increase chances for conception, multiple eggs are prepared so that the best one can be chosen amongst them for fertilization and then implantation, premature ovulation of follicles is prevented by giving some more injections.
Usually, it takes around 1-2 weeks for eggs to fully develop, to confirm the progress Transvaginal ultrasound and blood test are done before moving to the next step, and a trigger shot of Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG) is given 36 hours before the egg retrieval.
As the mature eggs are fully prepared, they are directly retrieved from the ovaries via Transvaginal ultrasound aspiration that takes around 15-20 mins. During the egg retrieval process, the ultrasound probe is inserted through the vagina into the cervix and then further, the needle attached to the suction device is guided using ultrasound, to the ovary, from where eggs are retrieved. It is done under anesthesia and its effects remain throughout the procedure, so the patient doesn’t experience any pain while it’s being done. For some people, it can cause cramps, a feeling of fullness, and lower abdominal pain for a day or two after eggs are aspirated.
Right after this retrieval procedure, the doctor will prescribe you to take progesterone for preparing your uterus lining, to make it more receptive for the embryo, hence resulting in successful implantation and pregnancy.
If the partner’s sperm is healthy then semen is provided by him on the morning of the egg retrieval procedure, this is usually collected through masturbation but other less preferred options like testicular aspiration can also be performed when needed.
Intercourse should be avoided for at least 3 days before the retrieval of sperms to get the best sample for fertilization.
Eggs and sperms retrieved from partners or donors are now fertilized in the laboratory either through conventional methods or Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), the embryo or embryos formed are then evaluated in 3-5 days by experts to select the best one for implantation.
After fertilization is done, the couple is called to the IVF clinic, where 2-3 healthy embryos are transferred to the uterus, sometimes sedatives are given to avoid discomfort during the procedure many patients won’t feel much pain.
An embryo transfer catheter guided under ultrasound is inserted through the vaginal canal to which a syringe containing embryos, suspended in fluid, is attached. As the catheter reaches the uterus the embryos are pushed from the syringe inside the cavity for implantation. It requires around 6-10 days for embryo/embryos to implant in the lining of the uterus.
This part of the IVF process isn’t painful but many women compare the feeling to that of a speculum being inserted as the pressure is exerted from the catheter, some experience mild cramps for a few days following the procedure. On the 9th or 10th day after embryo transfer pregnancy test is done, to know if successful pregnancy has taken place or not.
Once the IVF procedure is done, the woman can get back to her normal routine, but lifting heavy weights or doing a lot of exertion and vigorous exercise may cause aches and pains.
Some other side effects include:
- Passing a small amount of clear or bloody fluid shortly after the procedure.
- Breast tenderness due to high estrogen levels
- Mild bloating
- Mild cramping
Besides these, the procedure may also bring financial and emotional stress to the couple, therefore, they should seek proper counseling paired with IVF consultation to avoid any undesirable circumstances.
All in all, IVF can be a great option for some couples to have a baby. While not all of the process is painless, it’s important to remember that the discomfort associated with IVF might be manageable. To minimize pain during the process, patients should be sure to discuss their injection schedule and medication dosages with their doctor ahead of time. Additionally, guidance from a psychiatrist or therapist may help individuals to manage the emotional difficulties created by fertility issues. Ultimately, if you’re asking yourself “is IVF painful?” remember that many couples go through it and come out successfully on the other side – so why shouldn’t you? Take charge of your fertility journey today and do what’s best for you – no question asked!
- Is IVF painful?
When considering IVF for infertility treatment along with other queries ‘ how painful is IVF? ‘ is one of the most common concerns of couples, the answer is: It varies, some women feel no significant pain, while some patients may experience different levels of discomfort through various parts of IVF treatment and few other side effects but, it is not severe or painful to unbearable limits.
- Is egg retrieval for IVF painful? This step of IVF isn’t much painful since it is done under the effect of sedatives, some women experience mild cramps and discomfort for 1-2 days following the procedure.
- Is IVF successful?
In Vitro Fertilization is the most successful and most accepted Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) among couples seeking fertility treatment. The success rate is greatly affected by several factors, including the woman’s age, quality of gametes, uterine compatibility, etc.
According to SART, for a female under 35 years of age, the chances of getting pregnant are around 42% which falls to 2-3% for females above 42 years of age. Therefore younger females are more likely to conceive than older females, so it’s better to consult earlier and get the treatment rather than biding precious time.
- Is IVF safe?
IVF side effects are not usually severe or painful and generally don’t has any adverse outcomes, it is considered safe, but there are still some risks that the couple should be well aware of, it includes Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome, Multiple Pregnancies (that can affect maternal and fetuses’ health), Miscarriages, Ectopic Pregnancy, etc.
Through close observation and monitoring, the chances of these risks can be minimized.
- Is embryo transfer painful? Embryo transfer is done under mild sedatives and the embryo is inserted directly into the uterus via a tube attached to the syringe, so not much pain is felt, but women compare it with the feeling of speculum insertion for examination or pap test.
- Is IVF expensive?
When talking about fertility care and treatment, IVF is considered an expensive procedure, in Pakistan, it can range from about PKR 70,000 to PKR 1,50,000 per cycle, this cost covers all the steps and their prerequisites, like injections, fertility drugs, fertility doctor and IVF specialist consultation charges, etc.
- Most painful part of IVF? For women who have undergone IVF consider this as a bit painful but severe pain isn’t associated with it. Usually, certain types of discomfort are felt during the first step, when preparing women for In Vitro Fertilization that include: stinging sensations of injections and lower abdominal aches.
- Does IVF implantation hurt? No, it doesn’t hurt, but mild cramping sensations do occur, which don’t usually last for long. If they still persist or increase in severity along with other symptoms like Vaginal bleeding, then talk to your doctor without any delay.