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IVF Side Effects

The most common of the IVF side effects is anxiety.

IVF is not an easy treatment to go through.  The stakes are high and it’s an emotional process.  Women doing IVF are often irritable and cry easily. Commercials on the radio are enough to get the tears started.  Beyond being a difficult treatment, estrogen blood levels increase quite a bit during IVF.  High levels of estrogen in the blood can contribute to the emotional and irritable state.

Most women feel full and bloated from enlarged ovaries

Most women will also feel a full, bloated, heavy feeling in the pelvis.  The ovaries become quite large during an IVF cycle.  Typically, the ovaries are around 2-3 cm or 1 inch in diameter.  The size of the ovaries can increase to as large as 10 cm or 4-5 inches.  Each follicle that contains a dominant egg grows to 1.5 to 2 cm.  If there are 12 mature follicles, that’s 7 to 10 centimeters of ovaries in the pelvis!  It’s no wonder that women doing IVF feel bloated!  Pants may feel tight and uncomfortable.  Most women wear clothes with an elastic waste like yoga pants, if possible, late in the IVF cycle!


The medications used in IVF sometimes also cause headaches and fatigue. In general, the medications used for IVF are pretty well tolerated.  Most women who have used Clomid previously say that the medications used for IVF cause less symptoms than Clomid.

The egg retrieval

The egg retrieval part of IVF is done with anesthesia.  The good news is that you will sleep through the whole thing without any memory of the procedure!  Typically the symptoms are very similar after retrieval as they are before – full, bloated, crampy feeling in your pelvis.  There sometimes is some bleeding after an egg retrieval but it is just from the needle puncture site; it is not your period.

After the egg retrieval

The full and bloated feeling usually lasts a few days to a week after retrieval and then everything will go back to normal.  There can be some temporary weight gain with stimulation.  Once the retrieval is done, planning for the embryo transfer begins.

Embryo transfer

An embryo transfer basically feels like a pap smear.  However, you will be asked to have a full bladder and an abdominal ultrasound is performed to make sure the transfer catheter is in the right place in the uterus before the embryo(s) is released into the uterus.  Once the transfer is done, the hard part begins…..the wait until your pregnancy test!