Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Nervous First Time IVF Patient - What To Expect On Retrieval & Transfer Days

Oftentimes, first time IVF patients become very worried about how painful the procedure will be. The retrieval should not be painful at all, since it is usually done under some kind of anesthesia. In fact, all the shots that the patient has had to go through prior to retrieval and will continue to do after the transfer are more painful! (The photo above is of a human embryo implanting itself into the endometrium.)


I'm a little nervous about my upcoming IVF cycle. I'm wondering how much pain I'll be in after the egg retrieval and whether I'll need to take the following day off from work. Also, for the transfer, is there any pain associated with that, and should my husband come with me? Would I need to take the following day off of work with that? Thanks for your expertise.

Dear S.,
Unknowns always cause worry. All my patients have gotten through it just fine and I don't have even one patient that regretted the procedure, even if they didn't get pregnant.
It is a difficult procedure, however, because it is regimented, pre-procedure you have to take shots daily and it is emotional. We do the retrieval under anesthesia so you don't feel a thing. Not all clinics do, however, and it does hurt quite a bit if you are not under conscious sedation. After the retrieval you will have pelvic soreness like a strong period. For most patients it is tolerable with Tylenol, Motrin and/or a heating pad. It usually doesn't last more than that day but some patients are sore for a couple of days. The soreness is very tolerable and they usually can go to work the next day without a problem. You will only need to take the day of the retrieval off.

The transfer is a piece of cake! It is like doing a pap smear (which hopefully hasn't hurt you in the past). You should not feel anything. Your husband should be there with you to give you support. After all, he will want to be able to say that he was there when you conceived! I usually recommend my patients to take 3 days off after the transfer in order to lounge around and minimize their activity. Implantation will take 24 hours to 3 days to occur depending on the stage that the transfer occurs. After the 3 days you can go about normal activity, but I recommend light activity, which means no exercise, strenuous activity or sex.
Hope this helps and don't worry, you're in good hands!

Edward J. Ramirez, M.D.,FACOG
Executive Medical Director
The Fertility and Gynecology Center
Monterey Bay IVF Program
Monterey, California, U.S.A.

Check me out on Facebook and Twitter with me at @montereybayivf

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