Common IVF Questions: Is In Vitro Fertilization Painful?

Woman making hormonal therapy injection into her belly. Close up; blog: is infertility painful?

In-Vitro fertilization (IVF) is known as the most effective form of Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART). If you are considering IVF, you may have questions about the IVF process and whether or not it is painful. These questions are common, and we are here to help provide answers to help ease worry or confusion.

Is IVF Painful?

Each patient has a different response to the IVF process, and what may be considered painful to some may not be painful to others. Some parts of the process such as injections or egg retrieval can cause some discomfort, but you should never be in an extreme amount of pain. Experiencing severe pain can be a sign of a complication, and it is important to remember that complications associated with In-Vitro fertilization (IVF) are rare and can usually be treated effectively.

The self-injection of fertility medications has the potential to cause pain, but most patients have described it as uncomfortable rather than painful. Needles used for self-injection are thin, but if you have an aversion to needles, having a partner or friend assist with the injections can be helpful and comforting.

Ovarian Stimulation Injections

Ovarian stimulation is the first part of the IVF process. Patients are prescribed self-injectable medications that will stimulate their ovaries to mature eggs during a cycle.

Sometimes women experience bloating and other unpleasant side effects from the fluctuation in hormones caused by the injections, but these side effects are not usually severe or painful. Side effects can include breast tenderness, fluid retention and bloating, mood swings, headaches, and insomnia.

The Laurel Fertility Care team is available at each office visit to prepare you for any discomfort you may have and explain what to expect and why. While taking the medication, your doctor will monitor you with blood tests and conduct ultrasounds to determine when ovulation should be induced.

Ovulation Induction: The Trigger Shot

After your doctor determines that your ovaries have sufficiently matured the eggs, they will give you another medication to induce ovulation and release the eggs. This trigger shot usually contains Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HGC), a hormone that will help the eggs complete maturation before ovulation. The shot is typically given 36 hours before the egg retrieval.

The trigger shot may cause side effects, but patients often only experience some temporary irritation at the injection site. 

What to Expect During an Egg Retrieval?

During egg retrieval, patients are given pain medication and a sedative in order to make the procedure almost completely free of discomfort. After it is normal to experience some mild side effects such as cramping, bloating, or feelings of pressure. Any discomfort can usually be treated with an over-the-counter medication like ibuprofen, but your doctor can prescribe a stronger medication if needed.

After the retrieval, recovery is generally swift, and you should be able to get back to your routine after a day or two of rest. 

Embryo Transfer

After the eggs have been retrieved and fertilized in the lab, embryos will be selected to be transferred to the uterus. The embryo is inserted directly into the uterus with a syringe through a vaginal catheter. You won’t feel anything from the syringe, but you will feel pressure from the catheter. Many women compare this to the feeling of the speculum used during a Pap test. Some women can find the transfer a bit painful, but many aren’t bothered by it. Recovery from the transfer should also be fairly quick.


About LFC

Laurel Fertility Care offers a supportive and knowledgeable team to guide you when you’re ready to pursue your dream of a family.  The decision to start a family is life-changing, full of anticipation and dreams.  As the premier boutique clinic in the Bay Area, we are dedicated to helping your family grow, offering a personalized care approach full of hope!

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