Q&A: Giving Yourself Fertility Injections

hormone-injections-ivf-smallA woman undergoing frozen embryo transfer posted on the Choice Moms Over 40 discussion board, wondering if there were any tricks women have used to help with the fertility injections. “How the heck do I get over my fear of giving myself the intramuscular shots of Delestrogen and Progesterone??”

Here is some of the response:

  • I am really glad this question was posted. All I remember is the injection was easy, it was the soreness by the end of the day that was problematic. And finding a non-lumpy area to inject. I was told that for a donor cycle, I will need to go back on PIO because it has the best success. I will need every tip you can throw at me because it is the only part of this process that frightens me. Well, that and not getting (and staying) pregnant.
  • What I found useful to me was a heating pad. I would lay on it for about 15 minutes before I gave myself the shot to help relax the area and then about the same amount of time afterwards.
  • My doctor gave me vaginal suppositories* because she said those particular shots are so painful that they caused undue stress. The other shots weren’t so bad. The first couple I did ultra slow, but eventually they weren’t so difficult to do. They never hurt as badly as I was afraid they were going to!
  • I survived the shots by warming the PG oil (it thins it), getting the thin needle and just taking my time, doing a hot shower right after while massaging the injection site.
  • I took a hot shower after and gently massaged the area for a good ten minutes with the water streaming down. It helped to keep the oil from lumping up under the skin. Helped a lot.
  • I was petrified of the shots, so I asked my dear neighbor and she did it.
  • I squeezed/pinched the area to be injected between my thumb and pointer finger and gave the shot while doing that and it wasn’t too bad.
  • I won’t lie. I hated it! I tried everything, ice, heat, emla cream (topical rx anesthetic cream), and it still hurt like hell, and I was lumpy and sore for a while after I stopped. I did all my own injections, except one that a friend helped me with in a restaurant ladies room. That was actually the worst, since she was timid about it.
  • If possible, just before the first shot (either that day or day before) get the nurse to draw a circle in the area where you are supposed to give yourself the shot. Even if she just does it once, it will help you. Once less thing to worry about. I iced the area first when I gave myself the one intramuscular shot. I felt nothing. I used progesterone suppositories.* I bled vaginally the entire time I used them. it wasn’t clear at the time that the suppositories caused the bleeding so it was an extremely scary time for me. I’m sure your doctor thinks the shots are the best protocol for your specific situation.
  • The pio shots are pretty awful. But the wonderful girl snoring away next to me from her nasty cold was worth every painful shot in the butt.
  • How about some positive self-talk? Think of the end goal, a baby, and tell yourself ‘this is getting me closer to becoming a mom!’

* Special Note

One woman wrote: “Big FYI for anyone using vaginal progesterone. Please have your doctor check your progesterone levels when you’re using it. It mostly works just fine, but some women do not absorb it well. It was only due to my insistence on the blood test that I know that. It took 2 FETs to become pregnant with my daughter. For the second one I was using 2 different kinds of vaginal progesterone, inserting one about every three hours. I insisted on a blood test at my transfer. Got a call from the dr a couple of hours later that I needed to start PIO. Most top clinics use PIO instead of vaginal progesterone. Study show that vaginal progesterone works very well, but there are exceptions.”

One woman asked: “Wish I had known this…. I did 4 IVF cycles and one FET, and although all the embryos were of excellent quality, nothing ever stuck. I had also been told that the progesterone inserts would prevent menstruation, but mine would start even while on it… could that be an indication that I was not absorbing them well?”

For a response to that from Choice Mom adviser Dr. Rani Abbasi of Columbia Fertility Associates (D.C.), see this post.

Related Resources

Choice Mom E-guide: All About Eggs

SART Releases Free IVF Success Rate Predictor Tool



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