Why Egg Retrieval Can Make You Gain Weight – Temporarily

A measuring tape on top of weighing scales

If you’re anything like me, you may have found yourself gaining a couple of pounds around the time of your egg retrieval. Unless you’ve suddenly changed your eating and exercising habits, this is perfectly normal and more importantly, temporary. Here’s why egg retrieval can make you gain weight.

Egg retrieval can make you gain weight because of a buildup of fluid in your ovaries caused by your treatment. However, this added weight shouldn’t be much more than 5 pounds. This way of gaining weight is completely different from the usual way of gaining weight via the accumulation of fat, which makes losing egg retrieval weight much easier.

This article will look in more detail at why egg retrieval can make you gain weight, how it’s different from the way people usually put on weight and the ease with which you should lose it.

Why Egg Retrieval Can Make You Gain Weight – the Details

As mentioned, the reason why egg retrieval can make you gain weight is because of a buildup of fluid in your ovaries. This occurs because during the first part of IVF treatment you have been stimulating your ovaries (via the hormone injections and medications) to produce more follicles and eggs than normal, and as a result they will hold much more fluid than usual.

This not only causes many women to feel bloated and swollen but also means their ovaries are more bloated and swollen – whether they feel it or not. Bloated and swollen ovaries mean additional weight.

Okay, I hear you say, but surely that should mean the egg retrieval causes you to lose weight. After all, during the egg retrieval all the eggs and the fluid in the follicles, that have been building up since you started treatment, are sucked out of the ovaries. With it gone you should be back to your original weight. Why is it then that so many women gainweight straight after the egg retrieval?

Good question.

But the answer is that although the eggs and the fluid have been removed, blood rushes in to fill their place. This means that the ovaries remain enlarged and the bloating feeling and the weight remains, or in some cases, increases.

Two enlarged ovaries

Some women develop Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS) where their ovaries become hyper-stimulated, swell and leak fluid into the abdomen or belly causing them to gain even more weight. Fortunately, most women only experience a mild form of OHSS but in moderate to severe cases there might be excessive weight gain which is dangerous. If this occurs, you need to speak to your doctor as soon as possible to make sure you’re monitored and if necessary hospitalized.

Egg Retrieval Weight Gain vs Normal Weight Gain

The type of weight gain that egg retrieval causes is completely different from the usual type of weight gain that people want to avoid. The weight gain caused by egg retrieval is a result of more fluid retention than usual, but the usual type of weight gain that people want to avoid is a result of the accumulation of fat.

The good news is that it’s much easier to lose weight gained as a result of fluid retention (as we shall see later) than it is to lose weight gained as a result of the accumulation of fat.

Now the truth is if you do put on weight, that just because it could be caused by the retaining of more fluid than usual, it doesn’t mean that it is. You could have gained the weight via the old-fashioned accumulation of fat method (which is harder to lose) and you’re especially susceptible to such weight gain around the time of the egg retrieval for four reasons:

1. The Hormones You’re Taking

Some people believe that the hormone medications that you take to stimulate your ovaries cause you to gain weight. Others disagree, but what’s certainly true is that hormone changes can affect the way your body processes things. If your food habits remain the same but the way your body processes it changes, your weight can increase because of the accumulation of fat and not because of the retention of fluid.

Hormones can also affect your level of hunger and therefore how much you eat. And of course, eating more food than usual is the best way to gain weight via the accumulation of fat.

2. Pre-Existing Conditions

If you have certain pre-existing conditions, you can gain weight due to them and not because of a retention of fluid. One of the most common pre-existing conditions that can cause weight gain during IVF treatment is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) because it triggers insulin resistance. Diabetes can cause weight gain too for similar reasons.

3. Stress Eating

IVF is very stressful. There’s a lot to do just in terms of doctor appointments, checkups, blood tests, ultrasounds, paperwork, taking medication as well as feeling nervous about what’s happening to your body and worried about failing to become pregnant especially considering all the time, effort and bodily changes that goes into one treatment cycle.

Many people respond to stress by eating more, which of course is the usual way of putting on fat-type weight that is harder to lose.

4. Reducing Activity

It completely makes sense to want to reduce physical activity during IVF treatment. You have a lot more on your plate, you’re feeling tired, you want to let your hormone-filled-body rest, and you’re worried what exercise with stimulated ovaries will do. However, just because you’re putting your body through one unnatural process it doesn’t mean that the other laws of biology are suspended.

It should, but it doesn’t.

A reduction of physical activity will still lead to putting on more of the harder-to-lose fat-type weight.

How Much Weight Will I Gain Due to Egg Retrieval?

The amount of weight you could gain due to egg retrieval is about five pounds. Anything more is unlikely to be because of the egg retrieval alone and more to do with one of the four above mentioned other reasons that can cause weight gain.

I generally gain 1 – 2 pounds during my egg retrievals. The one time I became hyper stimulated, I gained a lot more.

Excessive weight gain, especially if it’s very rapid, almost always indicates another problem. If you notice sudden weight gain or a change in your appearance overnight, it’s a medical emergency and you need to call your doctor right away or go to the emergency room.

What to Do About Egg Retrieval Weight Gain

If your egg retrieval weight gain is actually a result of accumulated fat, the only way to lose it will be by the regular method of eating better and exercising. However, if your egg retrieval weight gain is because of fluid retention then as mentioned earlier, it’s much easier to lose.

What you’ll have to do about your egg retrieval weight gain is … absolutely nothing. Yes, you read that right, because when it comes to the weight gain caused by egg retrieval, not only is it easier to lose than weight gained via the accumulation of fat, but you lose it automatically!

I know, after all these years of working so hard watching what we eat and working out just to keep our weight at a somewhat reasonable level, the very idea of losing weight automatically would send shivers of excitement down all our spines, if not for the fact that we had to pump our bodies full of hormones and artificially swell our ovaries to get to that stage in the first place.

Anyway, once you finish treatment and stop taking all your medications, the extra hormones will be flushed from your system and all the fluid you accumulated will be drained from your body. Your ovaries will return to their normal size and you’ll return to your normal body weight.

There’s nothing you need to do and in fact there’s nothing you can do to help or speed up this process of losing egg retrieval weight. It will occur naturally and all the weight you gained should be entirely gone by the start of your next period.

Unless of course you become pregnant, in which case it could take several weeks longer for the fluid to drain from your body and by the time you’ve lost the weight you gained due to the egg retrieval you’ll have gained other weight for a completely different reason.

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