Hey, Destiny! I am copying and pasting a post I shared with another person who had the same nervous questions about IVF that you have. Please read!
Absolutely NOT painful. For about 2 weeks, the moment you get your first (regular) period, you take birth control pills. Then you go for ultrasound and blood test to see if your levels are all good and if your ovaries are all in the sleep mode. Then they start you on lupron, a teeny shot with a teeny amount of fluid in the thigh each morning. This goes on for a week. This teeny shot gives you zero symptoms (believe me, I've done this -- having been a donor 4 times in my life and doing 2 IVFs myself -- a hundred times, never with any drug side effects at all.)
Then you go back for another ultrasound so they can check that you're on track (count your resting follicles) and they start you on follistim and menopur, one in morning, one in pm. These are also tiny shots each, no pain, it's really no big deal at all. The Lupron is also continuing. This goes on for about a week. You go in for another ultrasound to see how many follicles are waking up and they change or keep your meds the same based on ultrasound and blood test results.
Then -- at only about 3 weeks after you started your period, or less -- they tell you exactly what night to give yourself a (long) HcG shot in the butt (DH must do this), and then 36 hours later you go in for retrieval. This is the longest needle you'll have to contend with, and it's only about an inch long. It's just a little prick, nothing comared to child birth! I mean, we wouldn't stop having children because of the pain of childbirth, would we? So no need to stop because of a smallish shot that will cause you 1 second of sharp pain.
Retrieval day -- the day after you took the HcG trigger shot -- must be a day off because you're just groggy and tired. It's surgery without the pain. You go in, they wash you up, they give you IV to knock you out, and in 1 hour you are awake (groggy) and DH drives you home to pamper you the rest of the day. You are tired but feel NO pain whatsoever. Oh, forgot to say that the moment they start giving you the groggy juice, they politely take your DH away so he can give a sperm sample. The moment they retrieve the eggs, they wash them and then either put them in the cultivating dish with the sperm OR they do ICSI on each egg (like we did), which is where they inject each egg with a single sperm to make sure they get in there. They tell you before you go how many eggs they retrieved from you.
Then, the next day the doctors call you to tell you how many eggs fertilized overnight. That and how mature (or immature) each egg was is basically all they can tell you at this point. The eggs are safely in the lab getting cultivated and on day 3 they look at the eggs again and give you a call. The reason they check again on day 3 is that that's the day when finally the DNA of the sperm kicks in. Eggs can be fine on day 1 and 2 but if they halt in growth or never make it past day 3, there's probably something seriously wrong with the sperm. Or... if your eggs are too old, the combo of sperm DNA and egg DNA has caused the fritz. Expect to have at least 65% of the eggs make it nicely to day 3.
So, on Day 3, they call you and let you know the grading of the embryos, and let you know how many (if any) they can culture to blast.... which is day 5. Some ladies get called in at day 3 because you have to have at least 6 good embryos to try to cultivate to blast because of the high rate of attrition during this process. (Turns out embies really want to be inside mommie and all this test-tube stuff isn't really for them.)
So, hopefully the embies can go to day 5 when they are called a blastocyst (blast) which is when the lab can see the set of cells which have made their way to make the placenta, and the set of cells which have made it to become the inner mass (which is the baby and the umbillical cord). And so they grade each embryo with a 1-5 and an ABCD. So, an example rating of a good blast would be 5AA or 4AA, etc. (We put in three 4AAs.) [See Dr. Smith's forum on all the good reasons to culture to blast. Basically, most things wrong with the embryos will show themselves in the light of Day 5.]
So, then, on day 5 you go in in the morning, they put your feet up, wash you up, show you the lab photos of the blasts that they are transferrring (they talk to you about it over the phone so you are well informed), and then the doctor comes in with his long turkey baster and inserts the eggs all at once. Zero pain, you're wide awake. You feel absolutely nothing. It takes like 10 mins. (If it's your first time, you will have gone through a trial transfer like 2 weeks ago just so the doctor can tell how long of a tube he needs to put in you to hit the back of your uterus.)
Ater that, put your legs down, you shake hands, and they give you a valium (DH says its to make you sleep all day because 48 hours bedrest is what they demand at this point so eggs can implant), and you go home and start your 2WW.
It's very simple, the time does NOT fly, it's the longest 2 weeks in your life, but in fact the whole thing takes about 3 fast weeks. If you'd like to email me about it please do! email@example.com