Please excuse the awesome 80’s music reference. You know you liked it.
If you’re looking for information on how to self-inject gonadotropins to stimulate your ovaries for purposes of fertility, you are in the right place. If you’re interested in how one actually takes a shot to the belly, you’re still in the right place. If the very thought of someone injecting themselves with a drug in the abdomen makes you queasy, you’re gonna want to click away and come back tomorrow. I’ll understand.
When I started thinking about our injectable gonadotropin cycle (called a GNT cycle in our clinic) I played down the fact that I’d have to inject something into my abdomen. I tried not to think about it. Unfortunately, I had almost two months to think about it and worry. I blogged a lot of my fear, but haven’t really touched on how scared I was to stick myself in the belly with a needle.
Then the boxes started to arrive. My trigger shot showed up first. Next was the big ol’ box of Bravelle. I’ll probably post a separate ditty to let you know about pricing for that, if you’re looking for information. I meant to do it before this one, but life got busy. Once the drugs were here and then the nurse called with my plan, and then the cycle started….well, I got scared.
Thursday was our anniversary, and ironically it was the day I started my injections. We both feel this is pretty auspicious. However, by the time we finished dinner and came home to face the needle, I was as nervous as a long-tail cat in a room full of rocking chairs. I had texted with my wonderful sister in law, Nurse Baileys, the night before. She reassured me that I would do fine, that it wasn’t a big deal, that the injection is supposed to go in fat so my abdomen really was the right place to put it, and that it won’t hurt much. She’s a nurse, you know, so I trusted her. We went into the bathroom, worked together, and got that first shot done. And it wasn’t bad. I will tell you right now that there is some pain about two minutes after I finish, and it lasts about three minutes. At first it was a sharp stabbing pain, and the next two days it was only an aching throb. Now it’s a little twinge and I barely even notice it. Honestly, it’s the same level of pain as a bad cramp or pinching yourself.
First thing: the injection doesn’t hurt nearly as bad as I thought it would. So rest assured, you can do this. When I was nervous and started looking for information on this, I didn’t find much that was very useful about self-injecting. So I’ll run through it for you a bit so if you’re getting ready to inject gonadotropins for a GNT cycle. I won’t be giving all the instructions — that’s why you have a doctor and I’m sure he gave you instructions. These are simply my tips and suggestions.
Assemble all your supplies first, and wash your hands. I find it easiest to unwrap all my needles, syringes, alcohol swabs and pop the tops off my vials ahead of time so that I don’t have any opportunities to forget something or screw up. Set out your nifty sharps bucket, too, or the empty can you’re using to hold your used syringes. Trust me, get a sharps bucket. Mine came free with my prescription, as did my needles and syringes. Can I call it a rig?
I find it easiest to use the Q-cap, but you might not. Either way, it’s not that hard to draw up the water and inject it into the powder. My first time took me forever to get it all (I need the complete 2 ml so that I can use a half vial), but it’s gotten easier each time. Remember to inject some air first so that the pressure forces the liquid into the syringe.
The needle you use to draw up the medication looks huge, I know. It is! It’s like two and a half inches long! It never, ever, ever touches your skin, so don’t worry about it. The injection needle itself is tiny. Mine is only a half inch long and is such a high gauge that it’s pretty much hair-thin. Trust me when I tell you that you’ll barely feel it.
One of the benefits of this whole infertility mess is that I am completely over any fear of needles that I may have ever had. And procedures are pretty much old hat at this point, too. If you are at the point where you’re starting gonadotropin injections, you have this needle business down pat. This is easier than the monthly blood draws, and smaller than any IV you’ve had. Hear me: It’s Not That Bad.
Sit comfortably is the advice they give you. I’ve done a few of my injections standing (if you fall and crack your head open, you may not hold me responsible), but sitting is easier. One thing they don’t tell you is a little embarrassing. But I’m going to be straight up with you, my gonadotropin-injecting friend: if you have PCOS and are injecting for fertility reasons, and you are built anything like me, you are probably going to have a harder time seeing past your own breasts to inject yourself than anything. Trust me. Figure out the best way to sit before you’re about to stab yourself.
Pinch an inch. Pinch more than you think you need to. There is not much creepier in this procedure than feeling the needle inside your belly, under your skin, with your thumb. If you don’t pinch enough belly, you’re going to feel that needle, trust me. And it is bizarre.
Pick a different spot each night. I only bruised from my first injection, but I think that’s because I pinched too hard. I was all nervous and bared down….with the wrong hand. Switch it up for yourself.
The actual stick is not bad at all. Nurse Baileys told me to think of it as a dart. Remember that you don’t actually have a ton of nerve endings in your belly — relatively speaking it’s just not as sensitive as other places.
The medication takes longer to go in than you think it will. Just push that plunger and trust me. It requires a firm hand, and takes a minute. And remember, don’t pinch harder in your quest to push harder!
When it’s all in, let go of your skin and pull the needle out. I’m finding that I’m not doing this fast enough — and I keep catching the needle under the very edge of my skin. It’s creepy, so learn from my mistake.
I don’t know if anyone made it through all that, or if it helped at all. I know it would have been nice to hear before I had to do it all myself. If you’re still reading, and you need to know how to do this, what I really want you to understand is that it is seriously not that bad. It doesn’t hurt at all, really. I don’t mind it anymore and I’ve only done it five times. If you have any questions you can add them in the comments or email me at TheBaileysAdventures (at) gmail (dot) com. I promise it will be okay.