By Jennifer “Jay” Palumbo, TTC Warrior
Yes. We’re going to go there. In the words of the famous REM song, ‘Everybody poops… sometimes.” (Note: That may or may not be the words)
Whether you’ve experienced it or just heard about it, constipation after egg retrieval can be a common side effect – as if your body hasn’t already endured enough. And while our goal is to have something growing inside us, a back-up of fecal matter isn’t what we had in mind. Below, we (gently) explore why this is and how you can handle it with class and grace. Quick pro-tip: Wear a tiara at all times. That way, you’ll at least feel royal while sitting on the throne!
Quick Review of What Egg Retrieval Is
Egg retrieval is the stage in the in vitro fertilization process where your doctor removes eggs from your ovaries for fertilization in the laboratory. Your doctor will place a needle attached to a catheter through the vaginal wall. You’ll be lightly sedated when this happens, which I strongly recommend. If they also have a way to make you feel like you’re on a beach with a cocktail, I’d request that. Pool boy optional.
Your eggs will be individually drawn out using light suction.
While this is a quick and typically not very painful procedure, IT IS STILL A NEEDLE IN YOUR VAGINA. Therefore, some women will experience some side effects, and sadly, constipation is one of them.
Why Do Some Women Get Constipation After Egg Retrieval?
Considering the emotional and physical pressure of fertility treatment, it’s essential to know everything to expect – even if it does seem embarrassing! The reason you may experience some back-up (so to speak) is a combination of things. It can be caused by the progesterone you take to stimulate egg production, or because of the local anesthetic utilized during the retrieval, or a combination of the two. Furthermore, some women may get constipation as a result of low activity or stress. Either way, constipation can be an uncomfortable and unwelcome side effect.
How to Manage Constipation Medically and Naturally
An obvious solution to managing constipation is to take a laxative. Don’t forget to consult your doctor regarding any symptoms you experience during your fertility treatment, including constipation. Common over-the-counter laxative brands include MiraLAX, Linzess, and Amitiza. However, after taking so many meds as part of your IVF treatment, you might want to avoid feeling like Judy Garland in her final years! There are some natural methods for treating constipation that include:
Drinking more water and staying hydrated is key to good bowel health
According to the Institute of Medicine, you should drink nine glasses a day. To get your digestive system working, you need to loosen tough stool in your colon.
Eat more fiber
Fiber is key to activating the digestive system and efficient transit time – that is, the time it takes for fecal matter to move through your system. If you’re trying to tackle constipation after egg retrieval, aim to consume at least 25 grams of fiber a day.
It might sound like an old wives’ tale, but eating prunes is an effective way to ease constipation. This is because they contain sorbitol, a naturally occurring sugary (is sugary a word?) alcohol that absorbs water and helps get stools moving.
Take a magnesium supplement
Always consult with your doctor before introducing a new supplement into your diet. If you’re undergoing fertility treatment, you mustn’t take any vitamins that might interfere with your fertility medication. However, if your doctor gives you the all-clear, magnesium supplements can help get your system moving.
Looking After Your Health During Your IVF Treatment
Undergoing fertility treatment is an emotional process, and clearly, a physical one too. Taking care of yourself and watching your health isn’t only crucial to conception. It can be vital to your mental health and well-being. Remember – constipation after egg retrieval is entirely normal, and there are ways to remedy it. You can manage constipation in a way that suits you and concentrate on getting pregnant ready!