In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a fertility treatment that has allowed many men and women to have a child since the first successful cycle in the late 20th century.
IVF assists in the various stages of conception to increase the odds of a successful pregnancy, and is an exciting option for patients dealing with infertility that brings many people a great deal of hope. However, the IVF process can also be stressful, uncomfortable, and emotional.
Most people are so concerned about whether IVF will be a success that the slightest symptoms or body changes become cause for concern. This is especially true of cramping, abdominal pain, and other discomfort during the IVF stimulation, egg retrieval, embryo transfer and conception.
Many women going through IVF experience cramping and abdominal pain after the embryo transfer during IVF. Let's cover what degree of cramping can be expected throughout the IVF process, and what can be done to alleviate these symptoms.
Cramping and IVF treatment
Many women become nervous if they experience cramping or abdominal pain during IVF treatment, specifically after the embryo transfer. Cramping is a common side effect in the days leading up to a woman’s period, so it's normal to wonder if cramps mean that IVF treatment has been unsuccessful.
Conversely, some women see stomach pains as a sign of hope. Cramping and ovary pain can be an early symptom of pregnancy, so many wonder if it is a sign of successful IVF treatment.
It is best not to read too much into cramping during IVF treatment. Mild to moderate cramping and abdominal pain are common side effects of IVF treatment. The medications used during IVF treatment trigger hormonal changes that can lead to cramping.
Some of the procedures performed during the IVF process, particularly egg retrieval and embryo transfer, are also known to cause cramping. So, difficult as it may be not to read into the cause of cramping, it is best for patients to view this mild discomfort as a normal part of the IVF process.
How to ease abdominal pain during IVF
Knowing that cramping and stomach pain is a common side effect of IVF does nothing to ease the discomfort that cramping may cause. Fortunately, there are steps that a patient can take to minimize pain when cramping strikes, including the following:
- Use over-the-counter pain reliever that has been approved by the doctor
- Soak in a warm bath
- Rest a warm compress on the area of discomfort
- Make sure you are getting enough fluids
- Try deep breathing or other relaxation techniques
When to contact your doctor
Although mild cramping and abdominal pain during IVF are common, more severe pain should not be ignored. If your cramping is severe enough that the abovementioned treatments do not ease discomfort, additional treatment may be needed.
Cramping should also be immediately reported to our doctors if it is accompanied by other symptoms, such as heavy bleeding, trouble urinating, shortness of breath, nausea, or vomiting. These may be symptoms of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome or ovarian torsion, both of which require medical attention.
At Pacific Fertility Center, men and women can find treatments for a full range of infertility issues. If you have been struggling to become pregnant and would like to learn more about your fertility treatment options, contact us at your earliest convenience.
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