Is IVF painful? This is a common question most women ask when they’re exploring this fertility treatment option. And the truth is, there is some pain and discomfort, but it’s comparable to the type of cramping and pain most women experience with menstruation. However, since everyone is different, this type of cramping pain can range from mild to severe.
A Closer Look at IVF
For many women who take the path of IVF treatment, this time can seem very stressful and uncertain. The goal, of course, is to have a healthy baby, however, it’s impossible to predict how a fertility cycle will go, and whether or not it will result in conception.
While the human body is amazing, it’s also very unpredictable. When a woman is having trouble conceiving, IVF is the most effective treatment option, but it’s also one of the most expensive. In vitro fertilization allows physicians to create a type of controlled environment which will enhance a woman’s chance of conception.
The process involves combining eggs and sperm in a lab dish, an incubation period and carefully monitoring the eggs throughout the fertilization process. Over a period of a week, the fertilized eggs will develop into embryos, which are then implanted in the patient or frozen.
If you’d like to learn more about the freezing process for eggs and embryos you can click here to read our helpful guide on IVF Treatment Australia.
If you’ve decided that IVF may be the best option for you and your partner, the first step is to meet with a fertility specialist. During this meeting, the fertility specialist will obtain your medical history and your partner’s.
The clinical consultant will review your history and your desired treatment plan. This is where all of the serious planning happens. You’ll learn about the different types of medications you must take in order to prepare for the egg retrieval process and how they’re used in an IVF cycle. You’ll also discuss creating a schedule for each procedure.
Next, you’ll speak with a financial consultant who can provide you with advice regarding your insurance coverage and other finance options.
The second week of the cycle is when it all really begins. During this time, you’ll undergo lab testing in order to get a clear picture of you and your partner’s fertility.
Common IVF testing includes:
- Screening for infectious diseases
- Evaluation of the uterus
- Blood panel
Your partner will need to undergo fertility testing that includes sperm analysis, blood panel, and a screening for infectious diseases.
At this time, you’ll also begin taking birth control. The goal is to prepare your ovaries and regulate your menstrual cycle. These pills should be taken for one month after testing or depending on the length of your cycle.
Potential Causes of Pain During an IVF Cycle
There are several potential causes of pain during IVF treatment. The first involves the egg retrieval process. In order to prepare for the harvest of the eggs, a woman must give herself daily injections in order to help the eggs develop. This is done with small, thin needles, usually by way of an injection pen. Most women dread that first injection, but because the needles are so thin, it actually hurts less than a regular shot at your doctor’s office.
Some women have complaints of mild pain during the next step of the process. During this step, as the eggs begin to develop, and the ovaries begin to enlarge this can cause painful bloating. The only way to get around this issue is to limit the number of eggs that are grown. However, this is a tradeoff of sorts because if you choose to use only four to six eggs the pain will be minimal, however, your conception success rate will decrease. Realistically, most women don’t experience any real pain during this step of the process, but the significant bloating tends to be uncomfortable. This discomfort can last up to a week after the egg retrieval process.
During the third phase, there may also be pain. This is the egg retrieval phase. The eggs are removed via a thin long needle. The needle goes through the walls of the vagina and into the ovaries. Most women experience anxiety and anticipate significant pain on that day. However, the pain is either nonexistent or minimal during this step, all thanks to anesthesia.
A fertility clinic will have an anesthesiologist on hand in order to keep you breathing normally and pain-free during the process. Some facilities still do egg retrieval without anesthesia. While this can help to cut down on costs, it can cause a significant amount of pain and discomfort for some women.
After the eggs have been retrieved the fertility specialist will start you on progesterone, which is administered as an injection. Since it’s on oil-based injection the needle is large and can cause pain. Some women have reported a lot of pain, while others felt that the pain was tolerable. If you find shots in general to be uncomfortable you can opt for vaginal suppositories or a vaginal cream.
Three to six days after the egg retrieval process the embryos are then transferred back into the uterus. The transfer can be uncomfortable but is relatively painless. Most women compare the pain and discomfort to that of a pelvic exam.
To sum it up, in regard to is IVF painful, while there is potential for pain and discomfort during a few of the phases, for most patients, the amount of pain is minimal. Ultimately, for many women the pain is worth it if conception is a success. Of course, this type of mild pain simply isn’t comparable to the type of pain that comes with childbirth. In the end, your physician and team of specialists will do everything they can to ensure your experience is as painless as possible. They may also recommend IVF and acupuncture as a way to increase your chances of conception and minimize stress.