How does IVF make your body feel?

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worried woman
The level of difficulty and exhaustion coming from the struggles with infertility often is compared with the one coming from coping with cancer.

That is something you might have heard already. Yet, with mentioning it, we want to give appreciation to every couple that is passing /has passed through it.

Thus, for those who are considering undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment, it is necessary to know how dedicated and consistent they should be.

Also, for those who have someone close going through it, this might be useful. We would like to help you understand how IVF treatments feel like, so you might be here for each other with full understanding!

Let’s examine one by one each step of a standard in vitro fertilization treatment and what do IVF feel like at each one. Keep in mind that each woman is different and the IVF process can vary.

The beginning… acknowledgement of fertility problem

This is where the emotional roller coaster starts. This is a stage in which the couple is realizing they are not able to get pregnant and there is some obstacle in this way. Infertility problem is diagnosed if a couple is not able to get pregnant after 12 months of unprotected sexual intercourse.

This is the “cherry on top” for all the couples that have been suspecting something is not fully okay during those 12 months. And the cherry, in this case, is more of sour, bitter cherry.

At this moment, the couple is starting to raise a lot of questions, initiating research about infertility treatments, look for the best options for fertility evaluations, for best IVF treatments, and possibilities to get pregnant.

The overwhelming starts. The list of questions is just going on. Usually, some of them are challenging from the aspect that they don’t have immediate answers.This usually goes along with a lot of stressful moments, worries, fear, uncertainty. The mental health is the first and most exposed to harm during all the steps further on. It is necessary to keep your head above the water and let the thought of hugging your child guide you.

What every couple has to know at this point?

This is just the beginning and you will need your strength! It might sound hard to accept, but don’t allow anything but optimism to guide you on this path! You need to be there for each other and fight this battle together. If you feel under too much pressure, try to find your best way to relieve yourselves. Practice some stress management techniques, start to see a therapist, spend more time with your loved one, keep the negativity out of your life, and remember, you are not alone in this!

Prepare your body, and your mind, for one of the hardest yet one of the worthiest couple of months in your life.

Stage 1 – Fertility evaluation

This is the first step of the in vitro fertilization procedure itself. At this stage, the couple is undergoing fertility evaluation. This evaluation contains several examinations so the doctor will have a clean image of what is happening with your reproductive system. Several blood tests, hormone evaluation, and ultrasounds are a standard part of the fertility check up.

Fertility evaluation for women

The fertility evaluation for women contains hormone checkups for the levels of:

  • Anti Mullerian Hormone (AMH)
  • Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH)
  • Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH)
  • Estradiol (E2) and Prolactin

Furthermore, it is a procedure involving:

  • Transvaginal ultrasound scans
  • Checking for infectious diseases (HIV, any presence of sexually transmitted diseases, hepatitis B, C)

How will the female’s body feel during this?

Except for the blood tests (something that we are all used to), the ultrasound scans can result in a feeling of slight discomfort. The pressure of anticipating the results is also a tiring stressor for the body.

Fertility evaluation for men

The fertility evaluation for men is a similar procedure as the fertility evaluation for women. The usual tests done to evaluate a man’s fertility are the following:

  • Physical examination from a urologist
  • Blood tests
  • Sperm analysis
  • Hormone evaluation
  • Ultrasound for detection of testicular problems (Depends on the concrete case)

How will the male’s body feel during this?

Man is mostly affected more psychologically and physically. Majority of man haven’t absolved detailed examinations before and at this step is still uncomfortable for them.

Stage 2 – Menstrual cycle’s suppression

This stage affects only the female patients ,but not every one of them. Usually cycle’s suppression is recommended to women with polycystic ovaries or those suffering from endometriosis. If any problem with the above mentioned is detected, the women might start therapy with medicine to suppress the menstrual cycle. This is decided by the fertility doctor based on the results obtained from the fertility evaluation.

The menstrual cycle’s suppression requires either usage of contraceptive pill or everyday injections for 10-14 days.

How will the female’s body feel during this?

The medications used for menstruation suppression might usually have short-time side effects similar to the menopausal state. This might result in:

  • Slight headaches
  • Hot flushes
  • Sweating
  • Moodiness

Stage 3 – Ovarian stimulation

For those, who didn’t need any menstruation suppression, this is stage 2.

This part of the IVF process requires hormonal therapy, which varies for each woman.

It can be stimulation with

  • follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH)
  • luteinizing hormone (LH), or a combination
  • both

Based on the hormonal analysis results from the fertility evaluation, each woman is prescribed with different hormonal therapy. Hormonal therapy is necessary, so the woman’s ovaries get stimulated to produce a higher number of eggs.
Hormonal therapy represents an injection that the woman gives herself in a period of 10 to 12 days or a suitable period based on the woman’s ovaries’ response. You can learn how to inject yourself by consulting with your fertility team or watching sample videos on youtube.

During this phase, the woman’s situation is closely monitored with ultrasounds and blood tests, to evaluate the progress of the therapy.

How will the female’s body feel during this?

In some women, taking these injections can result in pre-menstrual symptoms such as mood changes or slight pain in the ovary area.
Another side effect of these injections could be slight bruises (as from normal injection) and those are usually gone in a couple of days. However, if the bruising looks abnormal, or there is an indication of an allergic reaction, the fertility team should be consulted.

The last side effect in some women can be the hyperproduction of eggs due to stimulation therapy. Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS) symptoms can be a feeling of being bloated or slight discomfort. If this happens, you have to consult with your doctor to prevent more serious development of this syndrome.

In the most serious stage of OHSS women can experience vomiting, and in that case, she has to be hospitalized.

Stage 4 – Maturation and Retrieval of reproductive material

When the ovarian stimulation is completed and the follicles are ready (usually after the 8th day), then medication for oocyte maturation should be taken.
After a woman’s stimulation and oocyte’s maturation is completed, then the retrieval of reproductive material from both partners is made.
This procedure affects both the woman and man body, so we would like to familiarize both sexes with what the retrieval means and how are their bodies affected by this.

Egg retrieval procedure

Egg retrieval is in the surgical facilities of the clinic and is done approximately 34 to 36 hours after the last stimulating injection and before ovulation.
Egg retrieval is done under a light anesthetics and is a procedure using an ultrasound probe to identify mature follicles. This probe is inserted in the woman’s womb. When the identification is done, a thin fine needle is inserted into an ultrasound guide and it goes through the vagina into the follicles to retrieve the eggs. Finally, the eggs are retrieved with aspiration.

How will the female’s body feel during this?

After the egg retrieval is performed, the women might experience signs of cramping and feelings of fullness or pressure. Also,  some women reported minor bleeding. Slight pelvic discomfort is also a possible side effect of this procedure. Usually, to prevent any infection, this procedure is followed up with antibiotic therapy.

In cases that the woman will start feeling abdominal pain, or pelvic discomfort continues for more than one day, then the fertility team should be contacted.

Since this procedure is done on-site the fertility clinic, the women are under a doctor’s supervision and checked after the procedure. The team responsible for the IVF treatment is always alert and ready to intervene when needed.

Sperm retrieval procedure

When no anomalies with man’s ejaculation were detected, then the sperm retrieval is a standard deposing of sperm at the clinic where the IVF treatment is going to take place.
In the cases when the man experience difficulties to deposit sperm naturally then the sperm retrieval procedure can be performed. There are several methods practiced for sperm retrieval at our euroCARE IVF clinic in North Cyprus. The sperm retrieval procedure is also performed only on-site in clinical facilities.

At euroCARE IVF in Cyprus we perform the following sperm retrieval micro-surgical techniques:

  • Percutaneous sperm aspiration (PESA) – Sperm is collected directly from the reservoir of sperm above each testicle with a syringe and fine needle
  • Testicular sperm aspiration (TESA) – Retrieval of seminiferous tubules with a fine needle passing through the testes.
  • Testicular sperm extraction (TESE) – Removal of a small part of testicle’s tissue to extract few sperm cells from the tissue
  • Micro TESE – Taking a sample of sperm through a very small incision in the scrotum. Done with anesthesia, the testicles are opened and with microscopic help, the swollen seminiferous tubules containing sperm are located.

How will the male’s body feel during this?

Side effects from these procedures are rare, but within them can be found minor bleeding or risk of infection. Some (small amount) of men can experience a decrease in testosterone after the procedure. This decrease might lead to problems with sleeping and libido. Also, slight fatigue and anxiety can follow up in case of testosterone’s disbalance.

For any suspicious side effect, of course, the fertility team within the clinic should be contacted.

Stage 5 – Fertilization and Preps for embryo transfer

After the reproductive material has been retrieved, the fertilization follows. The fertilization of the egg’s with the sperm is done outside the woman’s body using the intracytoplasmic sperm injection method. The IVF fertilization as a procedure has no effect on the body.
At the same time as the fertilization is being performed outside the body, the woman is under constant medical checkups and her situation is closely monitored.
At this stage, the embryos that resulted from fertilization are left to develop and the woman’s body has to be prepared for the next step.

The preparations mean preparing the woman’s uterus for the embryo transfer. That involves progesterone injections, which increase the quality of the uterus’ lining.These preparations are necessary so the woman’s uterus is able to successfully receive the embryo and enable sufficient conditions for embryo’s further development.

How will the female’s body feel during this?

The side effects of the progesterone injections can vary. The most common ones are:

  • Breast tenderness
  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness

Even if without any side effects symptoms, the women at this stage should relax and preserve the body in balance. It is close to the final step,  and women’s preserved calm is one of the most important factors.

Stage 6 – Embryo transfer

After fertilization has been completed, the process of the embryo grading takes place. The grading involves genetic and visual quality tests performed so the embryo with maximal quality can be transferred. After consultation with the patients, the fertility doctor decides which embryo is being transferred. The transfer is usually painless and short procedure, with rarely experienced cramping. Usually the patient receives a mild sedative before the procedure. The procedure is performed by inserting a long, thin tube called a catheter into the vagina, through the cervix into the uterus.

A syringe with one or a few embryos in a small amount of fluid is set at the end of the catheter, and with the syringe, the doctor places the embryo into the uterus.

How will the female’s body feel during this?

Well, hopefully after two weeks, the female should feel – pregnant. As almost every step, this one can also have several side effects. Within these can be found:

  • Mild cramps
  • Minor bloating
  • Breast tenderness
  • Mild bleeding or releasing a clear fluid after the procedure is done
  • Spotting or very light bleeding (brown colored)
  • Constipation

If you develop moderate or severe pain after the embryo transfer, don’t hesitate to contact the clinic.

IVF journeys are not easy, but why you should not be afraid?

Choosing a clinic for IVF treatment is one of the hardest decisions of a couple that is undergoing IVF treatment for the first time, and also for those who have had a failed IVF cycle.

You will always have a medical team on your side!

The clinic and the team that a couple would choose are the people going with them through the journey. That means that choosing a proper team for the infertile couple means choosing security, dedication, medical expertise, calmness, and hope. The IVF treatment can be more than a life-changing experience. A lot of unknown topics, feelings, challenges are appearing on the way.

Thus, you should trust the team and the fertility experts that would take care of that and follow their directions. Infertility treatments are usually performed on-site, with all the medical support available. You will always have whom to ask, whom to speak to, and you won’t be let alone to wonder what is going on with your body.

You will always have a supportive team on your side!

The number of people struggling with infertility is concerning. Yet, the silver lining is, you will have the support for all of those who have been, are, or yet to be. Sharing information within people struggling with the same or similar problems is crucial.

You have the possibility to consult with fertility experts!

We, as fertility clinics aim to cover as much as possible questions that a couple struggling with infertility might have. euroCARE’s team considers this as the highest priority. Therefore, we offer a chance for a free consultation with our fertility experts, with which we can devote to each patient’s case individually.

We are at your side already!

Connect with our team and share your experience with us. Using cutting-edge technology, our clinic performs a variety of treatments to increase one’s chance of starting a family. No matter what is going to be the result of your first consultation, we will be a helping hand for you with providing you low-cost IVF treatments and fertility evaluations.
Besides the best IVF doctors in Cyprus, the location of our clinic is on the list of remedies we include in the IVF treatment.
It is not bad at all to consider the IVF treatment a vacation, rather than a scary process. Right?

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Resources:

https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/how-does-ivf-physically-feel_uk_5dcea93fe4b01f982f006f3c
https://www.glamour.com/story/what-ivf-is-really-like
https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/in-vitro-fertilization/about/pac-20384716

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