Coping with the drugs for IVF treatment is one of the steps on the fertility journey. Katy, 36, a magazine editor from Leigh-on-Sea in Essex, shares her story.
Katy has a five-year-old son (conceived via a successful cycle of IVF with her former husband) but suffers from unexplained infertility. When she met her new partner J, who has no children of his own, she was very open about her wish to have more children and the fact she would probably need to have IVF again – and soon! Luckily that didn’t put him off – and they made an appointment at Bourn Hall’s Wickford clinic just a few months later …
Katy explains more about her fertility journey;
There are a number of IVF medications to get your head around
“There are injections – twice daily for a bit – pills and even vaginal gels (and I’m beginning to think that the gels might actually be worse than the jabs!)
They arrived by courier, with one bag to go straight in the fridge and one that was fine at room temperature, shortly followed by a schedule sent over by email that made the revision charts I drew up at university look like child’s play!
At that moment, as I moved a couple of bottles of Prosecco out of the fridge to make space for 18 injections, it all suddenly felt very, very real.”
Got tattoos but still scared of needles
“Then there were decisions to make. From the comparatively minor (where exactly does one store a sharps bin? It’s not like it goes with the Hague blue walls of my kitchen!) to the bigger concerns like who was going to actually administer the injections. (For me, it was my partner, J. I’m totally fine with needles – as my seven tattoos are testament to – but injecting myself is a step too far. I need to look away as the needle actually pierces the skin!)”
Team work helped
“The daily schedule chart did make everything simple to follow. But it’s not totally fool-proof. We somehow managed to misread the dose for the first couple of days I was on Gonal F and thus didn’t administer quite the amount we should have – the dose was then doubled for a few days to make up that lost ground.
And that wasn’t the only hiccup. On two occasions J jabbed me, only to realise that he hadn’t turned the dose dial on the injection. Which meant I had to twist it while it was literally stabbing my belly. It’s a technique I definitely do not recommend!
While the injection stage of the cycle only lasted for 11 days it did leave quite a mark on me – literally. My abdomen and tops of my legs were left a patchwork of bruises.
It’s not a lot of fun, but hopefully every dose brings our baby dream closer to becoming a reality…”
Drugs for IVF treatment
Information supplied by NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) and the European Medicines Authority.
Bourn Hall provides personalised treatment plans that are specific to you, however the below is a general overview to explain why medication changes during treatment. Do ask a fertility nurse to explain your medication if you are unsure.
Pre-treatment – You may be offered an oral contraceptive pill or progesterone tablets before IVF. This makes it easier to time when you need to start taking fertility drugs. It won’t affect your treatment.
Down regulation – Depending on the type of treatment you are having, you may be offered drugs called gonadotrophins-releasing hormone agonists to ‘switch off’ egg production in your ovaries and make them more receptive to the medication used later to stimulate egg production.
Ovarian stimulation – Women who have received treatment to stimulate their ovaries can receive medication to trigger ovulation (the release of an egg from the ovaries). There are also medications to support the development of corpus luteum, special cells on the ovary that help prepare the body for pregnancy.
There are also medications for preventing premature ovulation (early release of eggs from the ovary), given to women having ovarian stimulation (fertility treatment where the ovaries are stimulated to produce more eggs).
Crinone (mentioned by Katy) is a vaginal gel that contains natural progesterone, a hormone that is produced by the ovaries during the second half of the menstrual cycle. It is an essential hormone for preparing the uterus (womb) for pregnancy and on-going support of pregnancy.