The side effects of in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment vary, depending on the treatment plan established by a doctor. Generally, women can expect some discomfort, particularly abdominal cramping and nausea, while taking medications to prepare for harvesting and transfer. The most serious potential risk is a condition called ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, in which the ovaries become enlarged and there is a possibility that one may rupture. When preparing for an IVF cycle, patients should talk to their doctors about the side effects they can expect with a given treatment.
If the treatment requires injectable medications, side effects of IVF commonly include soreness, pain, and swelling at the injection site. Patients usually find it helpful to rotate injection sites, if they are directed to do so by their doctors, and practicing injection technique on an inanimate object like an orange can be helpful as well. Patients can also experience side effects of IVF like cramping, headache, fatigue, hot flashes, and mood swings.
There is also an emotional component to IVF. People undergoing fertility treatment may be worried, stressed, excited, or all three. These can create side effects like nervousness, emotional anxiety, and depression. Working with a counselor can help patients process the emotions associated with fertility treatment and identify psychological disturbances before they become a problem.
If a patient develops ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, abdominal bloating and tenderness will develop. Severe cramps can be experienced, and patients can develop nausea, weight gain, pelvic pain, and reduced urinary output. In addition, patients may develop clotting disorders and can experience symptoms like soreness in the legs due to clotting problems. If an ovary ruptures, sharp pain can be experienced. Patients are monitored closely through treatment for any signs of this serious complication so it can be treated as soon as possible.
Once patients are done with the stimulation section of their IVF treatment, they are ready for retrieval, where eggs are collected using a needle. The side effects of IVF at this stage include soreness around the spot where the needle is inserted, along with cramping. If the fertilization is successful and the eggs are implanted, patients are checked to see if they are pregnant, and evaluated for the possibility of an ectopic pregnancy, one of the potential side effects of IVF. Once the pregnancy is established, patients can look forward to all the symptoms of a normal pregnancy, including everything from swelling ankles to nausea.