IVF Step by Step: ExplainingPain During Each Step of the Process
This is a
question which most of the couples ask when they are planning to undergo the
IVFprocedure. Every individual has his or her own perception towards pain, as
pain tolerance differs from person to person, based on their physical,
emotional and cognitive state. So the answer to this popular question could be
as simple as this – pain is quite subjective.
having performedmore than1,500 IVF procedures, spread over 20years of
experience in the field, I find myself in a position to give a better suited
answer to this question. Truth be told, during the IVF procedure, pain is not
just restricted to “physical” pain – patients tend to be stressed mentally as
well as financially; therefore, this question requires a detailed answer.
So, is IVF a
painful procedure? And if so, how painful?
In this article,we
will look at the causes and the intensity of pain at each step of the IVF
procedure, so that you can be better prepared to take the next step in your
Ovarian Stimulation and Ultrasound Monitoring
The IVF procedure
starts with giving injections from the second or third day of the menstrual
cycle in order to increase the number of eggs. With this, the popular question
crops up again – are the IVF injections painful?
In most of the
cases, these are not painful. There is a stinging sensation with some of them
but it is nothing to be bothered about. Most of them can be given ‘subcutaneous’
– this means that the injections are given into the fat layer between the skin
and the muscle. Although this might sound scary at first, it might put you at
ease to know that it is just like the insulin injections a diabetic patient takes,
which are known to only cause mild discomfort, if at all. Advancement in medicine
has allowed these needlesto be too thin to cause any pain. Also, patients are
taught how to administer the injections themselves, which not only helps in
reducing anxiety but also pain.
Note that when
the ovarian follicles start increasing in size with continuous administration
of IVF injections, the patient may experience some bloating, heaviness in the
lower abdomen and minor cramping, but nothing drastic.Transvaginal ultrasound
monitoring (also known as ‘pelvic ultrasound’) is usually performed at this
stage to monitor the growth of follicles, but this too is rarely painful,
although it may cause a little discomfort to some patients. However, this
discomfort should be minimal and goes away once the procedure is complete.
Stage 2. Ovum Pick
which is the process of extraction of the eggs, is usually done under short
sedation or general anesthesia to ensure that the patient does not experience
any pain during theprocedure. As it involves a transvaginal procedure with only
abouta couple ofneedle pricks and no cut or stitch, like the patients have in
other surgical procedures, there is minimal pain. Also, pain is mild after the
procedure, which, if required,can be controlled with mild ‘analgesics’,
commonly known as painkillers. Patient is discharged after a few hours from the
hospital asit is only a daycare procedure.
Embryo Transfer (ET)
This last step is
the easiest step in the IVF procedure but is also the most important one. You
may also think of this last step as one divided into two smaller steps – the
trial embryo transfer and the [actual] embryo transfer.
A mock embryo
transfer is done in the OPD usually one cycle before the actual procedure. This
mock ET is done to practically explain to the patient how, when the time comes,
the actual embryos are transferred inside the uterine cavity. This mock ET is
instrumental in putting the patients at ease by reducing any buildup of anxiety
or stress before the actual procedure as patients get an idea about what to
expect on the day of the real ET. The mock ET is not just important from the
perspective of the patients’ comfort, but it is also for the clinician to get
an idea about the angulation of the uterine canal. This allows the doctor to find
the best route to transfer the fertilized eggs to the patient’s uterus, which may
also increase the chances of getting pregnant.Just as with the mock ET, the
actual ET is also usually done without any anesthesia or sedation becausepatientsexperience
almost negligible pain.
and Waiting for Pregnancy Result
After the embryo
transfer, the patient is prescribedcertain medicines and injections, and the
pregnancy test is usually advised after 14 days of embryo transfer. During this
14-days period, progesterone injections(which help strengthen the walls of the
uterus) are given to the patients. They are usually painful as theyare oil-based,
butthis pain can be minimized with the use of hot or cold compress
(fomentation)at the injection site. Nowadays, aqueous progesterone injections
are available which are not as painful because they water-based instead of
oil-based.Apart from this, taking medicines continuously for up to 2 weeks can
also be uncomfortable for some patients.
But when the
result comes out to be positive, it takes just about a second for the patient
to forget all the pain she experienced leading up to this joyful news!
there are various situations during an IVF procedure that one can expect pain.However,
truth be told, most patients at the end are always of the opinion that it was
one of the procedures where they experienced minimal pain. It must also be noted
that according to various studies and researches, it was found that the women
who undergo the treatment found it to be far less painful – infact minimal – of
what they thought it to be before the start of the procedure.
With the advancement of medicine and technology, the procedure has not only improved significantly in terms of the success rates, but in also minimizing the discomfort caused to the patients. Given that IVF success can still feel like it mimics the flip of a coin, author Rachel Gurevich provides a hearty answer to a bugging question – how do so many women,individually and with their partners, move forward? It’s called hope. Working with the right team, and taking all the necessary steps physically, mentally and medically to succeed, the chance of bringing home a happy, bouncing baby feels much more obtainable.
the little pains of the IVF procedure do not stand a chance in front a baby’s