Updated: Jan 20
When considering the IVF process, many patients have a common fear – injections! For those who have bravely navigated the IVF process, almost all mention injections as one of their greatest fears prior to embarking on the journey. In order to decrease the fear, it is important to understand exactly what these medications do. How much pain is expected? What are the risks? Finally, what are some easy things to do to make the process less stressful?
What Do IVF Injections Do?
The IVF process involves the retrieval of multiple eggs for fertilization in laboratory. Embryos are subsequently transferred to the uterus, with the goal of a successful pregnancy and live birth. In a typical month, a single egg develops. For patients undergoing IVF, medications are used in an attempt to obtain several eggs, thus increasing the likelihood of success.
Medications are given for Ovarian Stimulation. In order to stimulate the ovaries, patients may be prescribed injections containing follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), a luteinizing hormone (LH) or a combination medication of both. These injections stimulate the development of more than one egg. Examples of FSH medications used for Ovarian Stimulation include Bravelle, Fertinex, Follistim and Gonal-F. Examples of medications which include a combination of both FSH and LH are Menopur, Pergonal and Repronex.
Injections are also given to stimulate Oocyte Maturation. Once ultrasound evaluation has revealed that the follicles are ready for egg retrieval, the fertility specialist will prescribe injections of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) or other medications to help promote egg maturation. Examples of hCG medications for Oocyte Maturation include Novarel, Ovidrel, Pregnyl and Profasi.
Patients will also be required to inject medications to Prevent Premature Ovulation. Follicles develop at different rates. Therefore, these medications help capture the greatest number of mature eggs at the time of retrieval. Examples of these medications include Cetrotide and Ganirelix.
Finally, you will also be required to administer a “trigger” injection. This is the final injection prior to egg retrieval. A common trigger injection medication used for IVF is Lupron.
How Often Will I Need to Inject IVF Medications?
Don’t worry – your clinic will provide you with detailed instructions regarding your daily medication regimen. Don’t be surprised if there are slight tweaks during treatment. Your specialist will be continually monitoring you and make any changes as needed. Some patients have one daily injection and others are presribed three or more injections per day.
Do IVF Injections Hurt?
IVF injections are never fun, but there are some things that can be done to make the process easier:
Engage the assistance of your partner, family member or friend. Allocating the responsibility of administering the injections can make your partner feel more involved and included.
Take one day at a time. It is easy to become overwhelmed by the box of medications and supplies. Some IVF veterans recommend setting out the next day’s medication each evening, and not focusing on anything further.
Some of the injectable medications have very small needles with little to no pain. This is always reassuring.
Rotate the injection sites and follow instructions for each medication. This allows for less pain post injection.
Big tip that many wished they had learned at the start – try icing the area prior to the injection. The numbing effect sometimes is a great help!
Enlist the help of friends who have gone through this process. Many find joining fertility groups to be helpful. Some clinics may be able to refer patients to these groups. The IVF journey can be lonely, so it is great to have the support of others who are on a similar path.
Overall, believe it or not, it will go by quickly. Before you know it, you will be injecting the final celebratory trigger injection (yay!) and preparing for the egg retrieval.
Have you received IVF injections? What are some tips that would be helpful for first timers? We would love to hear from you! Please feel free to share in the comments below.