When individuals are experiencing infertility issues, one of the most commonly recommended fertility treatments is in vitro fertilization, or IVF. IVF is an assisted reproductive technology that increases the chance of pregnancy by overseeing each stage of conception. IVF offers promising results, but it is natural for patients to ask, "Is IVF painful?"
While most individuals who have undergone IVF do not describe it as painful, there are moments that may cause minor to moderate discomfort. The fertility doctors at Arizona Associates for Reproductive Health prepare our Scottsdale, AZ, and Gilbert, AZ, patients for what to expect during the IVF process, including the degree of discomfort that may be involved.
IVF treatment typically begins with ovarian stimulation. Ovarian stimulation is a process that puts the ovaries into overdrive so that they produce multiple mature eggs, rather than the one that is normally produced during a menstrual cycle.
Ovarian stimulation involves the administration of hormone medication, or fertility drugs. Fertility drugs are given as self-administered injections. The needles used to deliver fertility medication are pretty small, so the shots themselves should not be particularly painful. However, some patients are more anxious about needles than others, so the discomfort level during this phase of treatment can vary.
In addition to injections, the ovarian stimulation phase of treatment can be uncomfortable due to fertility drug side effects. These medications alter hormone levels, which can lead to side effects such as:
Most patients describe the discomfort experienced during ovarian stimulation to be equivalent to the discomfort of their normal menstrual cycle.
Once mature eggs have been produced and released, they need to be collected for IVF treatment. Eggs are collected through an egg retrieval procedure. Patients are often nervous about how painful egg retrieval will be.
Eggs are collected using a thin needle that is inserted through the vagina and guided to the ovaries using ultrasound imaging. While this sounds like it would be painful, in actuality, egg retrieval is a virtually painless process. This is because our Scottsdale patients are under the effects of IV sedation throughout the procedure. As they recover from egg retrieval patients may experience some discomfort related to cramping or bloating, but it should be minor and should not last for more than a day or two.
The final stage of IVF treatment is embryo transfer. During embryo transfer viable embryos are transferred directly to the uterus. Embryos are passed through the vagina and cervix via a thin, flexible catheter. Once embryos reach the uterus, they are released, in the hopes they will implant to the uterine lining and result in a pregnancy.
Embryo transfer is not painful, but it may cause mild discomfort. Most people describe the sensations felt during this procedure to be the same as those experienced during a routine Pap smear. If patients are particularly nervous about this procedure, oral sedation can be requested.
If you have had trouble conceiving and are considering fertility treatment, the doctors at Arizona Associates for Reproductive Health can help you explore your treatment options. To learn more about the fertility services we provide, send us a message online, or call (480) 588-0423 to schedule a consultation.