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The Center for Fertility and Gynecology

Is the IVF Procedure Painful?

By Michael Vermesh on May 17, 2018

An illustration of an embryoIn vitro fertilization assists in several stages of conception and is highly successful in helping couples get pregnant. When preparing for the IVF process, many women want to know if the IVF procedure is painful.

At The Center for Fertility and Gynecology in Los Angeles, CA, Dr. Michael Vermesh and our team are available to answer any questions patients have about their treatment. Here, we go over the various phases of treatment so patients know what to expect and can prepare for any discomfort that may occur.

IVF Medications

To begin your IVF treatment, you will take medications and undergo a baseline ultrasound.

Many IVF medications are administered as a shot. Typically, these will be injected in the morning and at night for several days leading up to your egg retrieval. If you are already nervous when getting shots, this part of treatment may be uncomfortable.

The side effects of IVF medications can include cramping. Patients may take an approved pain medication, such as acetaminophen, to reduce discomfort.

Because patients take medications before and after egg retrieval and transfer, cramping may occur throughout or at any time in the process.

Ultrasound Appointments

Before your egg retrieval, you will have a series of ultrasound appointments to monitor your progress. These vaginal ultrasounds take just a few minutes. Patients do not experience pain during these appointments, but some do find them unpleasant.

Blood Draws

You will also have a series of blood draws before your egg retrieval, and after IVF to test for pregnancy. Most patients don’t find these blood draws to be painful. However, those with needle phobias may find blood draws to be uncomfortable.

Egg Retrieval

Egg retrieval is the most invasive phase of IVF treatment. During this appointment, an ultrasound probe is inserted into the vaginal canal to remove the follicles, or egg sacs, from the ovaries. This causes, understandably, apprehension among patients.

To make this phase of treatment more comfortable, we use medication that is administered intravenously. This medication will make you feel as though you are in a dreamlike state, and you won’t have any memory of the retrieval.

If you feel especially nervous before the procedure, we can consider the use of an oral anti-anxiety medication to calm your nerves.

After egg retrieval, patients may experience some cramping and bleeding for a few days.

Embryo Transfer

The embryo transfer is performed three or five days after your retrieval. During this procedure, the healthiest embryo or embryos are transferred to the uterus.

This procedure is less invasive than egg retrieval. Prior to treatment, we will have you take an oral medication to keep you and your cervix relaxed. The transfer appointment feels similar to an ultrasound for patients, as we will insert a vaginal probe and have the ultrasound up on the screen.

The IVF procedure is not painful, but certain aspects of it can be uncomfortable and cramping is a side effect of the medications, retrieval, and transfer.

To find out if IVF is right for you, contact The Center for Fertility and Gynecology.

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