I think this is an interesting thing to look at today. In my many years of practice as a Consultant Gynecologist with specialty in Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART), a lot of couples come to me and after consultation, I suggest IVF as a means to going forward in achieving their quest for conception, and I hear them ask in soft tones:Is it painful? I heard it is painful, how true is that? I am sure you too have the fear that the process is really painful. Well, like I have told all I have met, and still meet, the process is not particularly painful, it may just be tiring.

To start with, most fertility centers in Africa use the daily shots model before the egg retrieval. Here, injections are given subcutaneously (under the skin) on a daily basis for a period of 2 to 3 weeks. The injections are not as deep as the intramuscular injections that people take, but the long standard protocol could be tiring and frustrating, considering the emotional factors that come to play in the case of infertility.

After this initials, the oocyte or egg retrieval stage follows. During this process, a needle-like instrument, long enough to reach the ovary through the vagina is used to retrieve the oocyte or the eggs. A prick on the vagina wall, the ovarian wall, and several other pricks intra follicular, so that the eggs can be harvested. While this is going on however, the woman is usually sedated and does not feel any pain whatsoever. There might be a little pain-like discomfort when the anesthesia effect wanes but generally speaking, it is very mild.

The treatment is not a full scale surgery as many perceive it to be and fearof pain which births anxiety should not be entertained at all.  During the critical part of oocyte or egg retrieval which lasts about 3 to 8 minutes, the anesthesia effect takes care of the pain that is supposed to be felt.

The next process, which involves the embryo transfer after fertilization has taken place, takes an even easier approach. There is no pain at all, no pricking and no cut involved here whatsoever. The embryos are loaded into tiny catheters which are usually very flexible and go straight into the uterine cavity without the uterus even sensing occasionally that something has been deposited there. The only discomfort could be in the process of trying to expose the cervix using the speculum through the vagina. Again, this is also very mild and the woman is not even placed on anesthesia this time.

So contrary to popular beliefs, the IVF treatment procedure is not painful and just anyone can undergo the treatment if need be.

Does your medical or social condition, or that of your spouse requires you to undergo the IVF procedure as a means to conception? Then, you should go ahead and discard any fear whatsoever.

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