Blog > Is IVF Treatment Painful?

Is IVF Treatment Painful?

Wondering if IVF is painful? Learn about the IVF process, what to expect, and how to manage discomfort. Find out more with Apricity.

Medically verified
Written by Apricity Team
ivf ilustration

Table of Contents

    When considering IVF (In Vitro Fertilisation), one common concern is whether the process is painful. Understanding what to expect can help alleviate some of the anxiety. This guide will provide a realistic yet reassuring overview of the IVF process and address which parts might be more uncomfortable than others.

    For more details on our fertility treatments, explore our IVF package.

    What is IVF?

    IVF is a fertility treatment that involves combining eggs and sperm in a lab to create embryos, which are then transferred to the uterus. It's a multi-step process designed to assist with conception.

    The steps in IVF

    1. Ovarian Stimulation

    2. Egg Retrieval

    3. Fertilisation

    4. Embryo Culture

    5. Embryo Transfer

    Let's explore each step in detail and address any discomfort you might experience.

    Ovarian Stimulation: The Start of the Journey

    During ovarian stimulation, you'll take hormone injections to encourage your ovaries to produce multiple eggs. The idea of daily injections can be daunting, but the discomfort is usually minimal. At Apricity our advisors and nurses can talk you through injections, and our app library has helpful videos and articles to assist you. 

    How painful are IVF injections?

    The needles used for IVF injections are small and fine. Most women describe the sensation as a slight pinch or sting. If you’re nervous about administering the injections yourself, your partner or a healthcare provider can assist. There are steps you can take to help yourself feel calm and confident to administer your own injections, such as closing  your eyes and practising mindful breathing, or repeating a particular mantra. 

    ivf laboratory punction

    Egg Retrieval: A Minor Surgical Procedure

    Egg retrieval involves collecting eggs from your ovaries using a fine needle, guided by ultrasound. This is done under sedation or light anesthesia, so you won’t feel pain during the procedure. However, mild cramping or discomfort is common afterward, similar to menstrual cramps.

    Fertilisation: The Magic Happens in the Lab

    The fertilisation step occurs outside your body, so there's no pain associated with this part of the process. Eggs and sperm are combined in the lab, and once fertilised, the embryos are cultured for a few days.

    Embryo Culture: Growth and Monitoring

    Like fertilisation, embryo culture happens in the lab, so there's no physical discomfort for you during this stage.

    Embryo Transfer: The Final Step

    The embryo transfer is typically quick and straightforward, involving the placement of embryos into the uterus using a thin catheter. Most women experience little to no pain, often comparing it to a routine Pap smear. Some may feel slight cramping, but it’s generally mild.

    What is the Hardest Part of IVF?

    People experience the physical side effects of an IVF cycle differently, and whilst for some there may be unwanted side effects from medication, many report that the emotional and psychological aspects can be the most challenging part. The anticipation, uncertainty, and hormonal fluctuations can lead to stress and anxiety. It's essential to have a strong support system and speak with a fertility counsellor. At Apricity we offer all of our patients unlimited supportive counselling.

    Which Stage of IVF is Most Difficult?

    Many women find the waiting period after the embryo transfer to be the most emotionally taxing. Known as the "two-week wait," this is the time between the transfer and the pregnancy test. The uncertainty can be stressful, but staying busy and having supportive people around can help manage this period.

    How Stressful is IVF?

    IVF can be stressful due to the physical demands, emotional rollercoaster, and financial costs that it incurs. Managing stress through relaxation techniques, counselling, and support from loved ones can make the journey easier.

    ivf laboratory fertility apricity

    Some Common Concerns and Reassurances

    Does IVF Hurt?

    Overall, IVF is not described as a painful process. Some steps involve minor discomfort, but significant pain is uncommon. Medications, sedation, and the support of your healthcare team will help manage any discomfort.

    What are the Risks and Side Effects?

    It's essential to be aware of potential risks and side effects. Common side effects include:

    • Mild bloating

    • Breast tenderness

    • Mood swings

    • Fatigue

    Less common but more severe risks include:

    • Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS): A reaction to fertility drugs causing swollen, painful ovaries.

    • Multiple pregnancies: Increased risk of twins or more if multiple embryos are transferred.

    • Infection or bleeding: this is very rare, but possible following egg retrieval.

    For a more detailed discussion on risks, see our blog on IVF risks.

    Managing Pain and Discomfort During IVF

    Before you start treatment, educating yourself and undertanding each step can help reduce anxiety and perceived pain. Having a support system in place to give you emotional support, such as your partner friends or a support group can make a significant difference. 

    During treatment it can help to practice relaxation techniques to help you manage stress and discomfort, such as yoga, meditation or deep breathing. Over the counter pain relief can also help post procedure, though you should always consult your doctor before taking any medication. 

    After your treatment it’s important to take time to rest and give your body time to recover, especially after egg retrieval and embryo transfer. Staying hydrated and maintaining a balanced diet can support your overall wellbeing. 


    IVF is a multi-step process with some parts that may be uncomfortable, but it’s generally not described as painful. Understanding what to expect at each stage can help you prepare mentally and physically. Remember, every woman’s experience with IVF is unique. With the right support and preparation, you can navigate the process with confidence.

    For more detailed information, explore our IVF package, learn about the number of injections needed for IVF, and read about IVF success rates by age.

    Written by Apricity Team

    Helping you stay informed

    Written by our group of fertility experts and doctors consultants

    Keep reading

    Ⓒ Apricity Fertility UK Limited. All rights reserved