Many know that undergoing fertility treatments can be emotionally difficult, relationship straining, and a hormonal roller coaster — but for some women, the egg retrieval process can be extremely physically painful as well. Entertainment reporter Jason Kennedy recently had to take his writer wife Lauren Scruggs to the emergency room for “severe pain” after undergoing the egg retrieval procedure as part of her IVF treatment.
The couple, who wed in December 2014, have been open about their struggles with starting a family and shared in January that they were beginning their in vitro fertilization journey. Last Friday, Kennedy revealed that the egg retrieval procedure “went really well” for Scruggs, but by Monday night things had changed.
In an Instagram post on Tuesday, Kennedy detailed Scruggs’ trip to the hospital, writing next to photo of his wife in a hospital gown, “Well this one right here gave me a scare last night. A trip to the ER for severe pain post egg retrieval but our doctor assured us this morning that everything will be ok,” the former E! News host continued. “She’s STRONG and will be back on her feet in no time.”
Scruggs herself opened up about her decision to pursue IVF in an Instagram post last week. “It was an internal struggle initially to make the decision to start IVF because holistic routes are always my go-to, but after so much prayer, this path was the clear next step and so much peace is behind it,” said Scruggs, who lost her left eye and severed her left hand in a plane propeller accident in 2011. “Every time a shot hurts or if I am tired, I am so reminded of the most beautiful attribute behind having kiddos that I have learned from the sweet parents around me — there is nothing better to sacrifice for and this minimal discomfort is so temporary.”
While the pain of the numerous shots required to stimulate egg production is commonly talked about, the pain that may be caused by the egg retrieval process is less ubiquitous, so many women don’t know what IVF is really like. According to the Center for Reproductive Health in Spokane, Washington: “Expect abdominal cramping and bloating for up to a week after your retrieval. The severity of symptoms can vary greatly between patients. It may take a couple weeks for your ovaries to return to normal size. If bloating and discomfort increases over the 7-10 days after your retrieval, let your nurse coordinator know.”
Based on feedback from members of her IVF forum The Duff, blogger Mish says you’re likely to experience a certain level of discomfort afterwards, whether it be a small amount of bloating or fully fledged ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS), which is an exaggerated response to excess hormones that causes the ovaries to swell and become painful. Anecdotes from her forum range from “just a bit sore and bloated for a couple of days” to stories like Scrugg’s.
“A few hours after the first egg collection, I became very sick, bloated and in pain, and was hospitalized for four days with mild OHSS,” one woman shared. “The second cycle I had no problems; felt back to normal straight away!”
While we don’t know if OHSS was the cause of Scruggs’ trip to the ER, we’re glad she’s bringing more attention to the potential challenges of IVF that some women may not be aware of. Trying to conceive is such a powerless experience for anyone with fertility issues, and being prepared with more information can help some women feel a little more in control of their own experience.
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