IVF Side Effects

Although a great many couples believe the potential results of IVF compensate for physical discomfort or risk involved, it can't be denied that IVF is often a stressful process.

When so much time, money and emotion has been invested in a treatment, the one thing you don't need is extra stress worrying about symptoms and side effects. While IVF is mentally draining process for both men and women, it is the woman who ultimately assumes all the physical risks.

She may be left wondering, "Is what I'm experiencing normal?" "Am I supposed to have these cramps?" "Why am I getting these headaches?" Meanwhile her partner looks on helplessly for any sign that something is wrong. This is why it helps to know what side effects of IVF to expect. This will help you determine what's normal and what could be a symptom of a more serious problem..

"Menopausal" Side Effects

IVF treatment involves frequent blood tests and almost daily injections or nasal sprays of hormonal drugs. The first stage of the treatment aims to suppress your own natural menstrual cycle, so that your fertility doctor can induce ovulation at a later stage, when he is ready to harvest the eggs from your ovaries.

Basically, the initial treatment puts you into an artificial and temporary state of menopause, as odd as that may seem, given that you are trying to get pregnant. It therefore comes as no surprise that some women, but not all, experience menopausal symptoms during this part of the treatment cycle.

These symptoms may include hot flushes, headaches, and mood swings. Usually the reaction (if any) to these drugs is mild - however, if you experience any severe symptoms, such as very nasty headaches, disturbances of your vision or severe pain, seek medical advice. You may also find that the repeated injections leave bruises on your skin. Enquire at your fertility clinic if you think you need "re-training" in how to administer the injections.

Stimulation Side Effects

The next stage of the treatment involves using more drugs to stimulate the ovaries into producing and releasing more eggs than they normally would. The eggs will later be removed from the ovaries and fertilized in a laboratory. The drugs used for ovarian stimulation can have a number of side effects, including some abdominal pain, bloating, etc.


Ovarian Hyper Stimulation Syndrome (OHSS) is what happens when ovarian stimulation syndrome goes too far. Mild cases of OHSS usually don't require treatment but severe cases can be dangerous, even deadly. That's why you must report OHSS symptoms, even if they are mild, to your fertility doctor.

These symptoms include: stomach swelling and pain (due to cysts on the ovaries and fluid filling the abdomen), nausea, vomiting, rapid weight gain, shortness of breath and decreased urination (even when drinking plenty of fluids).

Retrieval Side Effects

Eggs are retrieved from your ovaries using a long, hollow needle, inserted through the top of your vagina. Anesthetic is used so you won't feel any pain. Some women experience cramping for a few hours after undergoing this process. Your fertility doctor will let you know what to expect. If you have severe cramps or any bleeding, seek medical advice.

Transfer Side Effects

After the eggs have been fertilized and transferred as embryos into your uterus, you may again experience a little cramping. If you have bleeding, speak to your doctor.

Ectopic Pregnancy

Ectopic pregnancy can occur after embryo transfer. This is when an embryo implants and grows outside the uterus, for example, in the fallopian tube. Ectopic pregnancy is a potentially life-threatening condition for both mother and baby - therefore symptoms must not be ignored.

These symptoms include: vaginal bleeding, pain on one side of the stomach or abdomen, severe nausea and vomiting, fainting and dizziness. If you have these symptoms, go to the emergency room.

Consult Your Doctor

Remember, if you have any concerns about IVF side effects, don't hesitate to speak to your fertility doctor right away - his professional opinion takes precedence over anything written here.

Learn more about IVF Side Effects

Login to comment

Post a comment