Does Egg Retrieval Cause Gas? It Certainly Feels Like It

A woman lying on a sofa holding her tummy

After an egg retrieval it’s common to feel an uncomfortable pressure on your stomach or abdomen. It can feel exactly like trapped wind and so it’s completely understandable for you to wonder whether egg retrieval can cause gas.

Egg retrieval does not cause gas despite you having the same symptoms. Any pressure, discomfort or pain in your stomach or abdomen is actually caused by bloated ovaries and not air in your gut. This difference may seem insignificant because the symptoms are the same but becomes important when considering how to manage them.

This article will look at why egg retrieval does not cause gas and why it feels like it does. Then we’ll look at gas remedies that won’t work and ways of coping with the bloat that do.

Why Egg Retrieval Does Not Cause Gas

Egg retrieval does not cause gas because it does not increase the amount of gas in your body or make you more sensitive to it which are the normal causes of trapped wind or gas and its symptoms.

There’s always a certain amount of gas in your bowel. It enters your body when you swallow during eating, drinking or even just a regular gulp. Eating quickly, drinking in large gulps and chewing gum will bring in larger amounts of air. Gas is also produced by bacteria in the gut breaking down undigested food and certain foods will produce more gas as they’re broken down.

Most of this gas is released as a burp but the rest will remain in the large intestine or colon. If there’s been an excessive build-up or if you’re more sensitive to normal amounts of gas, you may experience abdominal bloating, where your stomach feels blown out, tight or full of gas. Your stomach may become swollen, and your skirt or trousers may feel too tight. You could also feel pains or cramps in your stomach.

Egg retrieval can cause similar feelings of pressure, discomfort or even pain in your stomach or abdomen. It’s a very similar experience to that of trapped wind and gas but it’s not caused by too much or being more sensitive to gas. It has a completely different cause entirely.

Why Egg Retrieval Feels Like It Causes Gas

Egg retrieval feels like it causes gas because of what’s happening to your ovaries.

In the first phase of IVF treatment, you take medications and injections to stimulate your ovaries so that they produce more follicles than during a normal period which then grow and produce eggs. With more eggs than usual, your ovaries will be swollen and the more follicles, the larger your ovaries will be. To give you a sense of proportion, in a normal period you’ll usually have only one dominant follicle, but during an IVF cycle you can have between 5 and 40!

I’ve personally had the pleasure (and for those of you who can’t tell, I’m being sarcastic) of being at both ends of the spectrum. The most follicles I ever had was 40 and the least was 5. I can tell you that at the high end, I was definitely feeling the enlarged ovaries! The low end was no picnic either.

With swollen and enlarged ovaries you could feel pressure, discomfort or pain on your stomach or abdomen even before the egg retrieval procedure. Your stomach can become swollen, and your skirt or trousers may feel too tight. These are very similar feelings and experiences to those of trapped wind or gas but due to a completely different cause.

And since the cause is swollen or bloated ovaries, this experience is commonly called ‘bloating’ or ‘the bloat’.

About one in three women feel bloated at some time during an IVF treatment cycle. In the majority of cases this will be mild bloating and it’s absolutely nothing to worry about. In fact, it’s something positive because it means you have lots of follicles and therefore eggs that can be extracted.

However, you’re actually more likely to feel these gas-like symptoms after egg retrieval, and those who already felt bloated beforehand are likely to feel even more bloated afterwards. This is counter intuitive because if the whole reason you feel bloated is because your ovaries are swollen with extra eggs, then it stands to reason that once they’re extracted you should feel less bloated and not more.

However, once the eggs are extracted, blood rushes in to fill their place, so the ovaries remain enlarged, your belly stays big, and the gas-like feelings remain.

So egg retrieval feels like it causes gas because your already swollen and enlarged ovaries are now filled with blood causing you to experience the same abdominal pressure / cramps / discomfort as when you have gas.

Two enlarged ovaries

OHSS Feels Like Super Trapped Wind / Gas

Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS) can occur if your ovaries are stimulated too much and leak fluid into the abdomen or belly.

This can feel like super-trapped wind / gas and needs to be monitored and possibly treated.

There are actually three levels of OHSS: Mild, Moderate and Severe. While 33% of women doing IVF will experience mild OHSS which is not too much of a concern, 1% of women will experience severe OHSS where all the more unpleasant complications including damage to your ovaries, can occur.

Some of the signs of OHSS apart from feeling super trapped wind / gas, are:

  • Significant abdominal pain
  • Enlarged abdomen
  • Nausea – vomiting in severe cases
  • Reduced urination
  • Constipation
  • Weight-gain due to more fluid
  • Shortness of breath – in severe cases
  • Blood clots – in severe cases

It’s important to be aware of what OHSS is and its symptoms because you must contact your doctor if you think you have it so it can be properly treated as soon as possible.

Egg Retrieval Does Not Cause Gas So Gas Remedies Won’t Work

It’s extremely useful to know that egg retrieval only feels like it causes gas because then you won’t use cures for gas to treat the bloat.

The usual cures for gas include changing your diet, exercising, taking over-the-counter medications, drinking warm water or herbal tea, massaging your lower abdomen and going for a walk. Since the egg retrieval bloat is not gas related but having large ovaries related, these cures will not be effective here. This explains why that herbal tea you had your husband make for you several times while you were recovering from the egg retrieval, did not help at all.

As for remedies that are effective for the post egg retrieval bloat, there are none. But don’t panic, your body will heal itself naturally. All the gas-like symptoms will disappear when your ovaries return to their normal size and your period helps by releasing all the hormones that caused the bloat in the first place.

If you have just moderate bloating or even a mild case of OHSS, it’s usually entirely gone by the start of your next period. All the cramping, swelling, bloating and discomfort that you may have felt will disappear at the same time as your body resets itself.

If you have a moderate or severe case of OHSS it could take longer (in extreme cases you may need to be hospitalized and have the accumulated fluid drained from your abdomen, but that’s quite rare). If you become pregnant it can also take several more weeks for the bloat to completely disappear, and in some instances, it can actually worsen before getting better.

There are also things you can do to help you cope with the bloating until your ovaries return to normal:

Get Plenty of Rest

This doesn’t mean being confined to bed (although that may be nice) but it does mean that you should take it easier than usual. Get plenty of sleep and don’t start that major house deep clean project you’ve been planning for the last two years. You can still go to work, look after your family and do your other routine activities, just be sure not to overdo things.

Moderate Exertion Only

Avoiding exercise is unnecessary and a bad idea in general. You can still be active, walking or doing some moderate exercise. Just leave all your extreme sports for another time and the heavy lifting for someone who’s ovaries aren’t recovering from being more stimulated than usual.

Too much physical exertion can make the bloating worse and lead to further medical complications including Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS) if you haven’t got it already.

Drink Plenty of Fluids

This is counter intuitive as you want to reduce the amount of fluid in your body not to increase it by drinking a lot. However, drinking plenty of fluids helps to flush the liquid you’re retaining and is making you swell, and get you back to normal.

Eat Nourishing, High-Protein Food

This is because foods that are high in carbohydrates and sugar can make the bloating worse, so you need to be a bit more careful about what you eat.

Take Painkillers

If you experience a lot of pain, you can take painkillers but not anti-inflammatory drugs as that could interfere with your IVF medication.

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