The IVF Experience- Tips for More Comfortable Fertility Shots
Feeling some fear and stress over the thought of the many injections of fertility medication required for the ovarian stimulation phase? You are not alone. This can be a challenging step in the process towards pregnancy. It can be a grueling schedule for anyone, even if you don’t have any fear of needles.
Not every person finds shots painful but for the majority, injections are not pleasant. However, they are quick and any discomfort is over in just a few seconds. It is important to give yourself time to get it right, the following tips may help you get to a confident and knowledgeable place with your IVF injections.
How can I make injectable IVF medications easier?
Build your Team - Having an open dialogue with your healthcare team is important while learning the ins and outs of giving yourself injections. Make sure your team is giving you time to ask questions and gain confidence. You can always ask your team to circle injection sites with a marker to remove any doubts of where to put the injections.
Knowledge is Power - When it comes to IVF, injections are a fact of life, but they do not need to be a traumatic experience. Knowledge is key to help ease your fears. Gradual exposure has been proven to help even the worst phobias. Take time to immerse yourself in the why and how and you’ll find that education truly is one of the most powerful tools.
Deep Breath In, Deep Breath Out - Deep breathing and relaxation exercises right before an injection can make a big difference with allowing your muscles to stay relaxed even with the anticipation of an injection. Tense muscles can make the injection hurt more. One common technique is to breathe in deeply right before the injection and begin a slow breath out as you depress the plunger.
Heat it Up- Prior to intramuscular injections, applying a heat pad to the injection site for up to 10 minutes can help relax those muscles.
Ice, Ice Baby - Many people use ice as a method to help numb the skin before an injection. Two common icing methods are the ice cube or keep a coin in the freezer and use it as a mini ice-pack to numb the small area of the injection site.
Go Numb - You can purchase EMLA or other numbing creams without a prescription at your local pharmacy, which should help you from feeling the needle going in. Be prepared that you may still experience a slight burning from the medication (depending on which type).
Rotate Injection Sites- Find an injection rotation that works for you and stick with it.
For subcutaneous injections try your thigh or your stomach. Repeatedly injecting the same area can create soreness in that area.
Change Body Positions- Specifically for intramuscular injections, how your body is positioned can directly affect how the needle feels as it goes in your skin. If a partner is giving you your shot, try laying face down to relax your muscles. If you are self injecting, try bending over a support such as a counter, table, or bed with your weight on the opposite leg from the injection. Relaxed muscles can make the experience more comfortable.
Find Your Perfect Needle- In general, finer gauge needles tend to be more comfortable. Keep in mind that the higher the number, the smaller the needle. 25 to 27 gauge needles are typically ideal. If small needles are still causing you pain, try switching to a different brand or a different tip.
Confidence is Key - You may not feel confident right away but mindfully working towards a confident injection is worth it. Be quick and direct with your injection. One decisive motion is much more comfortable than any slow or twisting motions.
Celebrate with a Reward - Let’s talk about positive brain associations. Let go of the anxiety over IVF injections by having something to look forward to post injection, a delicious snack, uninterrupted reading of the novel you can’t put down, a foot massage from a partner… anything that brings you joy. This works best if you visualize your reward while you administer the injection. This will flood your brain with positive associations. The ultimate reward will be your healthy baby at the end of this journey, but a lot of treats and celebrations along the way are always a good thing!
Breathe in, breathe out, and take it one shot at a time. You got this mama!
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