WHAT IS IVF?
In vitro fertilization (IVF) is one of the most reliable treatments to infertility. IVF treatments consist of cycles. The process involves egg retrieval, fertilization with partner’s (or donor’s) sperm in the laboratory, and placement of the embryo(s) into the uterus.
Couples who have failure becoming pregnant with other fertility treatments usually turn to IVF to conceive. However, most women would refuse IVF option due to fear of pain. This has therefore prompted the question of “How painful is IVF”?
IVF CYCLES AND THEIR ASSOCIATED PAINS
The IVF cycles of several stages occasioned with varying degree of pain. People experience sensations differently as each patient has a different reaction to the procedures involved, and may or may not experience pain. A successful IVF childbirth, so you can’t rule out the absence of pain whatsoever – it is definitely worth it after delivery.
So with that in mind, here’s a breakdown of what you should expect, pain-wise, at different stage of the IVF cycles.
Preparation Stage – This is the first part where the woman anticipates pain, as she begins her injections for eggs development. This procedure is usually done with either needles with small bores or the newer injectable pen devices. Most women dreads the first injection for fear of the unknown, but immediately the initial anxiety ends, majority of the women say that there was little or no pain.
Egg Development Stage –The woman also complain of pain as the eggs starts to develop and the ovaries begin to enlarge, resulting in some lower abdomen pain and bloating, especially when large number of eggs develops and the ovaries become over-stimulatory. However, if stimulation is well-controlled, many women don’t even experience any pain, but slight discomfort that they are able to cope with.
Egg Retrieval Stage –Many women anticipate great pain during egg retrieval, as they are aware that the eggs are kextracted by piercing the ovaries through the vagina using a thin long needle. But in reality, there is no pain during this procedure as it is carried out under anesthesia.
Embryo Transfer Stage –The embryos are usually transferred back into the uterus three to five days after egg retrieval. The transfer of the embryos is almost painless; however you may feel discomfort only during the insertion of a vaginal speculum, which is similar to that felt while taking a pap smear.
After the embryos have been transferred back into the uterus, the patient will begin on progesterone, which are either injections, gels or suppositories. The administration of progesterone injections are more painful because they are oil-based injections and hence the needles used have larger bores. Some patients can bear the pain while others can’t tolerate the severity of the pain. This is why at our IVF centre at Zeeva Fertility we do not routinely recommend the use of these injections or any injections post-transfer, hence resulting to the use of only non-injection forms which are painless, such as oral or vaginal preparations.
Pain is always a possibility when undergoing a medical procedure, and going through IVF treatment is not exceptional.
So in summary, with respect to physical pain, while IVF may have the potential to be painful in a few stages, in reality, there is minimal pain or mild discomfort for majority of patients.
However, nine months later, there comes the much greater pain associated with childbirth and the postpartum period, which far outweighs any pain of the IVF cycles.
The joy and consolation of every patient who undergo IVF treatment is that this great pain is followed by the reward of motherhood.