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Safety of IVF Injections

April 17, 2024

Many couples struggling with infertility choose IVF to attain their dream of having children. When a woman decides to undergo IVF treatment to help her get pregnant, she has to take fertility hormones in the form of IVF injections to stimulate her ovaries to produce more healthy eggs. Are these IVF injections safe? Can injecting hormones cause side effects in the woman and the baby she conceives? Read on to find out.

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About IVF Treatment

IVF – In Vitro Fertilisation is a fertility treatment to help couples get pregnant. A couple can suffer from infertility due to various reasons. When the sperm quality is normal and clears all the tests, a fertility doctor can suggest IVF.

In IVF, the doctor administers hormone injections to the woman to stimulate her egg production. Next, they will collect these eggs and infuse the sperm in them for fertilisation. Once the fertilisation is successful, the embryo forms. The doctor will transfer this embryo into the woman’s uterus. If it successfully attaches to the uterine wall, implantation takes place, leading to a successful conception.

IVF Injections Explained

A woman’s body generally releases just one mature egg every menstrual cycle during ovulation. When she opts for IVF treatment, the doctor will want more than just one mature egg to increase the chances of pregnancy. So, they will start her on a set of hormone injections. The drug, its frequency and dosage will vary from woman to woman, and the fertility specialist will decide this depending on multiple factors.

It can be about 6 weeks between the time your hormone injections start and your pregnancy test after embryo transfer. During this time, the doctor will perform multiple ultrasounds to closely monitor your ovaries and their response to the hormone injections. We can broadly classify the process into four main steps –

1. Monitoring

This is the period between your first hormone injection and the final trigger shot before the egg retrieval. It can last anywhere between 8 to 14 days. The fertility specialist will observe how your ovaries are reacting to the hormone injections.

During this time, regular ultrasounds (daily or alternate days) will help the doctor measure the size of your ovarian follicles. Ovarian follicles are the small sacs in which the eggs develop. If the sac is more than 14mm in size, then the egg inside is mature enough for ovulation or extraction. If the follicle is less than 14mm, then the egg is still not ready.

Once the ovarian follicles are ready, the doctor will move on to the next step – the trigger shot.

2. Trigger Shot

You have to take this trigger shot exactly 36 hours before the egg retrieval. Once the follicles are big enough, indicating mature eggs are ready for ovulation, the doctor will fix your egg retrieval date. They will ask you to take the trigger shot exactly 36 hours before the time for retrieval.

3. Egg Retrieval

36 hours after your trigger shot, when your ovaries are ready to release the mature eggs, the fertility specialist will start the retrieval process. They will guide a thin needle into each of your ovaries and retrieve the eggs from the mature ovarian follicles. An ultrasound will help them guide the needle, with a suction device, to the right follicles.

4. Embryo Transfer

After retrieving the eggs, it is time to fertilise them using the sperm from the partner. Once the embryos form, the doctor will transfer two or more embryos back into the uterus and freeze the remaining in storage. Now, before this transfer, your doctor will administer another injection to prepare your uterus for implantation.

This hormone injection will prepare your uterus for implantation by making the walls thicker. In most cases, you will be on oral medications for about 14-21 days (2-3 weeks) before they give you injections for the next six days.

A blood test and an ultrasound will tell the doctor if your uterus is thick enough for implantation and if your body has enough hormones to support the same.

Side Effects of IVF Injections

Different fertility drugs can have different side effects. The intensity will also vary from person to person depending on how their body reacts to the medicine and the dosage they take.

Some of the common side effects for each of the common IVF drugs are:

  1. Soreness – You may feel some soreness or have bruising at the injection site, especially if you are using the same site more than once. You can use different sites to reduce the soreness or bruising.
  2. Hot flashes – The increase in hormones can make you feel hot suddenly. You may feel the heat more on your face, neck and chest. This may last a few minutes and subside on its own.
  3. Nausea – Nausea is a very common side effect of IVF injections. Many women experience nausea at varying intensities after their IVF injection.
  4. Headaches – You may experience a mild or severe headache just hours after the injection. If you are prone to headaches during your menstrual cycle, it increases the chances of you having a headache after your IVF injection.
  5. Tender Breasts – The increase in hormones in the body can cause a tingling sensation in your breasts. They can feel tender to touch.
  6. Bloating – These medications can interfere with your digestion and cause bloating, which can last for a few hours or even days. However, if you feel pain and bloating, you should consult your doctor immediately.
  7. Weight Gain – The hormonal fluctuations can make you gain weight. This could also be due to an increase in your appetite. It is just your body getting ready to support a new life, and there is nothing to worry about.
  8. Allergies – Some women can develop allergic reactions at the injection site. Ensure you inform your fertility specialist or health care provider about the reactions you experience. If they increase in intensity, you should go to the hospital without any delay.
  9. OHSS – Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome is a rare complication of IVF injections. When a woman takes many injections continuously, the hCG can reach high levels. This, in turn, can cause her ovaries to swell and leak fluid into the abdomen. In very rare cases, it can even lead to other complications.
  10. Ovarian Tumors – Taking these fertility drugs for more than 12 continuous months can increase the risk of developing ovarian tumours later in life.

Precautions to Take in IVF

So, how can you avoid these complications of IVF injections? Here are some tips:

  • Close monitoring by your fertility specialist can help identify issues at the earliest.
  • If you notice any new symptoms or experience pain, consult your doctor immediately.
  • Never try to self-medicate for cramps or other pains during your IVF treatment.
  • Follow your doctor’s instructions and never miss appointments.
  • It is natural to feel fatigued during and after the treatment. Ensure your body gets enough rest.
  • Choose your injection site carefully and avoid using the same site repeatedly.


IVF is a good option for couples struggling with infertility. Just like any medical or scientific procedure, IVF has its own set of side effects. Remember, not everyone suffers the side effects; most are manageable with timely intervention. Finding a good fertility specialist and clinic can reduce your risks and increase your chances of a successful pregnancy.


1. Is IVF treatment risky?

If IVF is done by a well-trained specialist in a good facility, after properly analysing the patient, the risks are very minimal.

2. Are IVF medications safe?

Yes, with the advancement of science and technology, IVF treatments are very safe, and most issues arising out of the treatment are easily treatable.

3. Is IVF completely safe?

No clinical procedure is 100% safe or successful. There are chances of risks, side effects and the treatment not working. It depends on the patient, the reason for infertility, the fertility specialist and the clinic’s success rate.

4. What precautions should be taken during IVF injections?

Ensure your fertility specialist gives you a personalised treatment plan and medicine dosages based on your test results. Follow the doctor’s orders and keep a close watch for reactions and symptoms. Addressing issues, if any, as soon as possible is advisable.

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