You’re ready to devote your time, emotional reserves, and discretionary income to getting pregnant. Up until now, your physical discomfort has been at the hands of skilled and ultra-competent healthcare professionals. You’ve endured blood draws, vaginal ultrasounds, and possibly even laparoscopic day surgeries. But that was different. Now it’s you or a significant other who will literally stick it to you.
Assisted reproductive technology can seem overwhelming. But for the courageous couple that really wants to have a child of their own, the end justifies the means. You and your fertility doctor have a plan that may include injections in conjunction with intrauterine insemination (IUI) or with the process of in-vitro fertilization (IVF).
There’s that word again. Injections. Shots. Needles. Sharps. Take a deep breath and face your fears. This is the tool that delivers hope. Under a doctor’s care, fertility medication can work wonders. This medication can help develop eggs, tell your body when to release those eggs, and nourish a growing baby after conception. Why is it delivered in an injection form? (rather than a pill ?) The medication works best when delivered this way into your body. It’s simply the most effective way to achieve results.
Texas Fertility Center will provide extensive and compassionate injection training with practice sessions until you feel comfortable and confident. We understand the stress you endure and want to make injections as painless and stress free as possible. In the end, it is very common for us to hear that the injections are much easier than patients have initially expected.
After you’ve completed a TFC injection class, prepare a place at home where you’ll administer your shots. This could be the kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, or anyplace with a clean surface. Here, you will assemble all the supplies you’ll need so they are within reach: medicine, syringes, alcohol swabs, and a sharps container for discarded needles. For cycles that enlist multiple medications, consider labeling clear plastic containers for each prescription.
Always begin by washing your hands with antibacterial soap and water. The needle should never come in contact with anything. When in doubt, throw it out. Next, rub the cap of the medication container with an alcohol swab and follow the instructions provided to you. You might need to mix or dilute a medicine before drawing it into the syringe, or the doctor may order prefilled syringes.
It’s important that you expel any air that remains in the liquid medication. To do this, you’ll point the needle toward the sky, draw slightly back on the plunger and lightly flick the syringe. (You’ve seen this move on all the doctor shows.) Let the air bubbles that appear rise to the surface – and then depress the plunger slightly until they escape out of the tip. A tiny bit of liquid may overflow, too.
Your injection will fall into one of two categories: subcutaneous (under the skin) or intramuscular (in the muscle). Subcutaneous injections, given with a shorter needle, enter either in the abdomen or upper thigh and tend to be relatively painless. The longer needle of intramuscular injections requires an injection site with more muscle tissue—the thigh or
Hip -and will hurt more than a sub-Q shot but less than a blood draw. Although most of the injections are given subcutaneously, occasionally intramuscular injections are required. Texas Fertility Center provides an in-depth guide for each type of injection, in-office training, and phone support. Plus, you will practice on a rubber ball or practice pad until you feel ready for human patient.
Listen to your fertility nurses. They will winnow down years of experience into a digestible tutorial on injections. Talk to other couples going through infertility. Texas Fertility Center hosts seminars and classes where you’ll gain both practical knowledge and emotional support. The Internet even has some useful videos and blog tips. We’ve compiled some of the best injection tips we’ve heard over the years:
1. Whoever is giving the injection should exude confidence (even if he/she has to fake it), prepare the syringe out of the patient’s line of sight, and deliver the shot in a quick, purposeful motion.
2. Some patients find that applying a warm compress before and after the injections and massaging the area with a tennis ball helps the medication absorb more quickly and eases discomfort. Some patients find that ice cubes or numbing patches from a pharmacy before the shot alleviate their discomfort. Alternating the injection site also helps lessen the discomfort.
3. Offer generous words of encouragement and compassion.
4. Pinch the skin when giving a subcutaneous injection and spread the skin taut when giving intramuscular injections.
5. Play soothing music or a funny TV show in the background as a distraction.
6. Reward yourself after each shot.
7. Involve your spouse. If giving yourself a shot scares you, this is a good way to have your partner share the burden and become actively involved in the process.
8. Remember why you are taking these shots. It will be worth every stick!