NO ONE likes shots; I don’t care if you’re five years or fifty five years old. There’s not one person who enjoys being stabbed with a pointy object…whether it’s a samurai sword or a safety pin or a long-ass needle filled with ovary-stimulating medication.
But injections are part of the fertility treatment deal. No shots? No baby. Maybe one day the GonalF or Menopur or Progesterone in Oil (PIO) manufacturers will make a magical pill, but as of today, the shots are one of the least pleasant parts of the Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) experience…which is saying something, considering there are many unpleasant parts.
So what can you do to make the whole injection / needle-in-the-stomach (or butt!) experience bearable?
Here are some of our favorite tips and suggestions for administering your IVF or IUI injections like a damn pro.
- Reframe injections: Sure, shots are no fun…but try reframing the experience. Think about them as a tool you’re using to try and get one day closer to your future babe. I tried to remember the big picture with every injection…by the end, I even looked forward to my injections because it was literally all I could do to help grow my follicles, thicken my uterus lining and overall try to improve my odds of having a baby. You have so little control on your fertility journey, but doing your injections responsibly is one thing you DO have control over.
- Practice makes perfect: Not gonna lie, the first time you inject yourself (or your partner injects you) is scary. You don’t know what to expect…will it hurt? A little. Will it be as bad as you think? Probably not. Most importantly, make sure you understand how to properly mix and administer your medication. Your fertility clinic will most likely walk you through this in detail; many also offer tutorial videos on their websites. Make sure you ask your nurse any and all questions you have. As you know, fertility medications are crazy expensive, so it’s best not to waste any on avoidable mistakes.
- Ask a partner, buddy or nurse for help: Some people are afraid of flying. Others are scared of heights. And some are drop-dead terrified of needles. If you’re one of these people and you’re also going through infertility? I’m sorry. The universe has played a terribly cruel joke on you. But it’s going to be ok. If you don’t feel confident injecting your own meds, it’s time to turn up your charm and ask someone to help you. Maybe it’s your best friend, your cousin who is also a nurse or your husband/wife/partner.
- Ice, ice, baby: Before administering your injection, ice the injection site for about 5 minutes with an ice pack (or ya know, a bag of frozen vegetables if you’re super classy). This will adequately numb the spot and make the injection significantly less painful during the actual injection.
- Gear up: Make sure you have alcohol swabs, bandaids and/or paper towels (in case there’s blood) and a Buzzy. It’s a cute little vibrator (don’t laugh) that you place right near the injection site and it helps distract busy minds away from the shot. I loved my Buzzy and used it with every single shot!
- Make it a ritual: Coming up with a ritual can help ease the emotional stress of injections. Maybe it’s a square of chocolate or cup of tea afterwards, a kiss from your partner or even listening to a certain song (if you have a good sense of humor, you could try this one).
- For subcutaneous injections: Take turns between sides of your tummy; it hurts a lot more to keep stabbing yourself in the same spot. Try going around in a circle so you give certain areas enough time to heal before circling back to them.
- For intramuscular injections: Ahhh, the dreaded PIO injections. Everyone has their own process and system for these bad boys. Some women can do them on their own (RESPECT!) – but for me, I hated the wonky angle and had my husband help out. Some women also like to lie down for these, but I found it much easier standing up and leaning against the kitchen counter. Here was my whole PIO system:
1) Lean against the kitchen counter and put all your weight on the leg that’s not getting the injection
2) Ice the injection site for about 5 minutes
3) Swab it with an alcohol pad
4) Turn on your Buzzy and place it near the injection site
5) Take a deep breath and count to 3
6) On the exhale, administer the shot and breathe out through the whole injection
7) Massage the injection site; walk around a little to get the oil moving, or if it feels particularly sore sit on a heating pad for a few minutes
- Expect some setbacks: Some injections hurt worse than others. But remember that setbacks are normal and part of the process. Hang in there and try to remember the end goal is having a baby! Hopefully you won’t even remember these silly injections one day…
Any other tips? How do you make your injections less painful?