Side Effects of IVF
The majority of the physical side effects of IVF aren’t due to IVF itself but, rather, the medications that facilitate the processes involved in the in vitro fertilization procedure.
That being said, fertility specialists and those who’ve gone through the IVF journey might argue there are also emotional side effects of the process that are worth being aware of so you have the tools and resources necessary to get the support you need.
Physical Side Effects of In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)
There are a range of steps along the IVF journey that could have physical side effects. These include:
The majority of the tests required to diagnose female infertility factors include blood tests, ultrasounds, hysterosalpingogram, and others. Some of the tests that involve running dyes or tubes into your pelvic region, or adjunct treatments such as the removal of scar tissue, cysts or fibroids, can potentially result in pelvic discomfort, cramping or spotting/bleeding.
Your fertility specialist will inform you of exactly what to expect during and after each procedure. Most of the side effects associated with fertility testing are minimal, treatable via over-the-counter pain relievers/anti-inflammatories and a day or two of rest.
The majority of the side effects you’ll hear associated with IVF are the result of the injectable fertility medications required to mature and release a high number of eggs for retrieval, optimizing the number of potential embryos.
The most common physical side effects of fertility medications include:
- Bloating and cramping
- Hot flashes
- Swelling or discomfort at the injection site
- Blurred vision
- Abnormal bleeding
Very rarely, women who are sensitive to ovarian stimulation experience severe physical discomfort and inflammation of the ovaries, called ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS). This is one of the reasons fertility specialists so carefully monitor patients taking injectable fertility medications; we’re committed to keeping you as comfortable as possible and to cease treatment if you’re having adverse reactions.
Consider switching to an anti-inflammatory diet, if you haven’t already. In addition to supporting fertility, it can help reduce some of the inflammation-based side effects of the medications.
Side effects resulting from mild sedation
Finally, during both the egg retrieval and embryo transfer procedures, we use mild sedation to help you relax and keep you comfortable. For most, the sedative wears off completely with a few hours or so (one of the reasons we ensure you have a designated driver to take you home!). However, some women are more sensitive to sedation than other.
The common side effects associated with sedatives – dizziness, sleepiness, mild queasiness or nausea, post-sedative headache – are all possibilities. Drinking plenty of water to flush the sedatives from your system and taking a nice nap – and getting a good night’s rest – should do the trick.
Emotional Side Effects of IVF
There are also emotional side effects of IVF. These can range from losing some of the spontaneous romance in your relationship with your partner, to depression and anxiety, or even feelings of complete isolation. Fortunately, there are things you can do to buffer their impact.
The romantic soundtrack has come to a complete stop
Has the romance flown out the door with all of your scheduled, ovulation-based rendezvous and the side-effects of IVF meds? Try to prioritize your relationship as much as possible and keep the love alive.
Depression or anxiety
It’s not easy surrendering to an infertility diagnosis, and the infertility path is rarely smooth and straight. You’ll have rocky roads ahead and so in addition to surrounding yourself with the best means of support for yourself (more on that next), we highly recommend seeking a great fertility counselor. S/he’ll be there to help you weather the stormy days and work with you on distilling the decision making process if things get more complex than you thought they would.
Feelings of isolation and loneliness
Even though infertility affects 8% of the population, it can feel like you’re all alone out there. The best tools to help you cope with that are tapping into the fertility support networks in KC and the online community. Figuring out who you want to talk to – and who you don’t want to talk to or hear from – can also help round up your life support of chosen elders, colleagues, family and friends.
Are you worried about the side effects of IVF? The team at RRC are not only the best fertility specialists in Kansas City, we’re also the most compassionate and supportive. We’ll be here for you every step of the way.
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RRC has over 200 years of combined experience. As a leading reproductive health, infertility, and in-vitro fertilization (or IVF) center based in Kansas City, we're proud to have the highest level of expertise available to our patients.