IVF injections: Tips for fertility shotsknchua
For women pursuing in-vitro fertilisation (IVF), you will most likely be given fertility medications for ovarian stimulation. These medications come in the form of injections and are usually self- administered. It can be a challenging experience to have multiple IVF injections a day, even for those who are unafraid of needles. Here are several tips from our nurses that may be of help.
What to expect from IVF injections?
A fertility treatment plan consists of a highly-individualised combination and dosing of fertility medications which typically spans for 10-14 days. The injections help deliver hormones to stimulate the production of multiple follicles in the ovaries.
There are two types of injection routes:
1) Subcutaneous injection
A subcutaneous injection involves a small needle inserted under the skin at the abdomen area. Most fertility medications are given this way, for example, gonadotropins (Gonal F, Menopur), GnRH antagonists (Orgalutran, Cetrotide) and hCG trigger (Ovidrel). These days, medications are easier to administer thanks to pre-filled injections pens with adjustable dosing via dial. After the injection, you may feel a slight tingling or burning sensation.
2) Intramuscular injection
An intramuscular injection is done with a longer needle in order to deliver the medication straight to the muscle. Example of fertility medications given intramuscularly are Lucrin Depot (instances where downregulation is preferred) and progesterone injections after embryo transfer. The site of injection is usually the upper buttocks area. At our centre, this is administered by the nurses.
Tips to make the injection process easier
- Speak with the fertility nurses. Don’t worry, the nurse will spend time to teach you how to administer these injections. This is a great time to ask questions so you feel confident.
- Plan a routine that incorporates your injection schedule. It is advisable to have the stimulation injections at the same time every morning. Planning a routine around it helps make time for it.
- Have your loved one stand-in for you. Another alternative is to get your spouse to perform the injection for you if that helps you cope better.
- Store the medications properly. Fertility medications are meant to be kept cool in the fridge at 2-8°C (not the freezer!). You can place them into a zip-lock bag to avoid mixing with other items.
- Find a clean and comfortable location. It would be ideal to choose a clean and comfortable area at home before having the shots.
- Relax and do not be tense. Tensing the muscles in anticipation of the shot can actually cause more discomfort. Practice breathing in before the injection and breathing out when depressing the plunger.
- Applying an icepack. You can also apply an icepack to numb the area before inserting the injection. Also, make sure to wipe with an alcohol swab afterwards.
- Changing positions when necessary. Should there be any bruising or if you feel sore, you can alternate between the left and right abdomen area when administering the injection.