The IVF journey poses multiple challenges, and injectable medications are one of these. This is especially true for women who have an innate fear or shots or low pain tolerance. Fortunately, there are things you can do to notably ease any pain and discomfort associated with fertility medication injections.
Educate yourself as much as you can
The more you know about the process, the more comfortable you’ll be. In addition to reading everything you can, and asking your fertility specialist for advice, use online video tutorials, such as Freedom’s MedTEACH modules, to familiarize yourself with the process. These modules are designed to offer medication preparation and administration instructions for injectable cycle medications, and they’re available from any computer or smart gadget. Sometimes seeing the process in action is a better teaching tool than black-and-white text.
Afraid of needles? Get Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Have a need phobia? You’re in luck! Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a proven method for treating needle and medical phobias, as well as other anxieties.
Look for a CBT center in your area. Most offer specific, 12- to 16-week training sessions that not only eliminate your phobia but also provide functional, real-life tools and skills for addressing anxiety, stress, and fear –invaluable assets as you continue the fertility journey.
Pinch the skin at the injection site or pull it taught
If you were to inject yourself without any preparation or tricks, it would most likely feel like a quick, hard pinch. This is because the needles used for subcutaneous (just below the skin) injections are very sharp and short – easy in, easy out.
Therefore, many women find that by pinching the skin at the injection site, and lifting it up just a little (separating it away from your muscle), as they administer the shot minimizes any sensation. The area’s nerves are already occupied, so to speak, and so the addition of the shot doesn’t register.
Note: The exception to this “short needle” rule is the intramuscular shots (typically the hCG trigger shot and progesterone oils). However, these are usually administered in the upper-buttock by a partner or close friend. Even so, most people say it feels like pinch, and the injection site may feel slightly bruised for a day or two afterward. For intramuscular injections – it’s best to pull the skin taught, rather than pinching it. Then rub it briskly afterward.
Use ice to numb the site
Icing the site for just 15- to 30-seconds is enough to dull the nerves in those outer-layers of skin - all you need for the subcutaneous shots.
If you’re administering intramuscular fertility medication shots, using the longer needles, some women find that heating the area with a heating pad for about 10- to 15-minutes relaxes the muscles, which makes them more pliable for the injection.
Over-the-counter numbing agents
Ambesol is an over-the-counter (OTC) numbing agent used to relieve sore gums. It can also temporarily dull the nerves on the surface of your skin at the injection site. If you go this route, let the Ambesol or similar OTC sit on the skin for a minute or two. Then, wipe it away with an alcohol swab before administering the shot. You always want a completely sterile injection site to prevent infection or unnecessary inflammation.
Try different locations
Some women swear by the thicker fat layer on their tummies, others prefer their thighs. Experiment with different locations, and even different sides of the boy, to find your least-sensitive spot(s). Gently poking around potential sites with the needle first – without puncturing the skin – can help to locate less sensitive areas on your skin.
Be smooth with the removal
The smoother you move the needle in and out, the less damage it will do to any surrounding tissue. So, while it’s best to aim quick and fast for the “in,” we recommend removing the needle slowly and steadily, in a straight shot, without any side-to-side wiggling.
The first injection or three are the hardest because you’re learning a new skill. After that, you’ll be able to inject yourself quickly, painlessly and professionally.
Looking for a pharmacy that specializes in affordable, fertility medications, and a fertility treatment-friendly staff? Contact us here at Freedom Fertility Pharmacy. We’re here to help you every step of the way.