Overcoming the fear of injections in IVF treatment

If you are undergoing IVF there is no avoiding the fact that needles will play a large part in your treatment. Hormone regulation injections and regular blood tests both involve the use of needles and syringes and are essential to the process – with some of them being self-administered.

All patients are given the option of a ‘drug teach’, but sometimes find there is a lot to take in and may get home and feel that a bit of extra help would be reassuring, so we have produced a short video that shows you how to use Buserelin, the medication for down regulation. This is the first stage of the IVF treatment where drugs are used to suppress the menstrual cycle and it is administered by injection.

We have also produced this video which answers some of the frequently asked questions.

If you have having difficulties watching the video above you can view it on YouTube here.

Two of our patients share how they overcame a needle phobia that nearly stopped them having treatment.

Nicola’s story – car accident triggered a fear of needles

The Johnson family with Thanos and Louise
Nicola and Kevin and baby Harry meet Thanos Papathanasiou (Bourn Hall’s Regional Lead Clinician) and Louise Brown (the world’s first IVF baby)

“When I was younger I had hypnotherapy for my needles phobia,” says Nicola. “Although I cannot be completely sure I think my fear stems from being in a car accident a few years ago and having lots of injections in my face.”

Nicola had IVF at Bourn Hall and is now mum to baby son Harry – but there was a point when she thought that her massive phobia of needles might mean she wouldn’t be able to go ahead with her treatment.

When Nicola and her husband first visited Bourn Hall she broke down when she realised that her fears might get in the way. “We were taken in to a consultation room and I just couldn’t cope with the idea of injections,” she says. “I got really upset and said that I didn’t think that I could go through with it. We put our plans on hold and went home.”

Nicola with Harry
Nicola with Harry

 

A few months later Nicola came to a decision: “I thought to myself ‘I have got to get over this if we do want to have a child because having fertility treatment is my only chance,’” she says. “Something inside me changed and allowed me to do it and although I used to feel sick and nervous, I did it. I couldn’t inject myself with the fertility drugs at home; my husband did that for me. The first time he came near me with the needle I told him to go away and then over time I trusted him to do it and I closed my eyes when he injected and we got through it somehow.”

Nicola was delighted when she found out she was pregnant following successful IVF treatment.  “When I had been nervous about the injections I would focus my mind on how much I wanted a baby. The moment Harry was born and I held him in my arms for the first time I knew it had all been worth it,” she smiles.

Georgina’s story – overcame her fear and self-injected. Now plans to be a blood donor

Drug teach - BuserelinGeorgina is mum to Freya and Maximilian after treatment at Bourn Hall – and, like Nicola, had previously undergone hypnotherapy for a crippling fear of needles.

“I really don’t know where my fear of needles came from,” she says. “My mum sent me for hypnotherapy to overcome the fear when I was younger so that I wouldn’t panic when we had vaccinations at school.

When Georgina and her husband went to Bourn Hall for fertility treatment she realised immediately that she would have to face her fears head-on.

“I asked straightaway when we were told about the injections if there was any other way of doing it without needles but it was explained to me that there just wasn’t,” she says. “I knew it was going to be a case of mind over matter.

“I had a lot of offers of help. One of my colleagues had had IVF and she showed me how easy it is to inject and gave me a lot of support. One of my best friend’s mums is a nurse and offered to do the injections for me but they have to be every day and in a particular time window and it just wasn’t practical. I could have asked my husband to do it but I decided in the end that I would feel more in control doing it myself.

“The first injection took me a long time and there were a lot of tears whilst I kept picking the needle up and putting it down again but I got there in the end.  After that I just tried to think of something else whilst I was doing it.

“Now I am a mum it was all worth it. I feel like the luckiest person. I have no idea where my original needles phobia came from but since I had my IVF I have had an annual flu jab and have had acupuncture on my knee. I have now set myself a target of giving blood as it is something which I have never done.”

Drug teach support

Bourn Hall Clinic aims to make the treatment process, including the injections, as easy and stress-free as possible and invites every new patient to attend a “Drug Teach” session with a fertility nurse.

Down regulation is where drugs are used to suppress the menstrual cycle putting the patient in to a temporary ‘mini-menopausal’ state. Here is a video which answers some of the questions that we are frequently asked by patients about down regulation and the injection process, which include:

– How long will I be on the medication?

– Do I have to self-inject at exactly the same time every day?

– How soon will I start to bleed after taking the down regulation drugs?

– Do I need to let Bourn Hall know once I have started to bleed?

– How many doses will I be able to get out of the bottle?

– What should I do with any extra medication left over in the bottle?

– What should I do with the sharps bin containing the discarded needles?

– If I don’t feel confident injecting myself is it okay if my partner does it for me?

Additional step-by-step video guides, as well as general information about the drugs used in treatment, can be found on www.fertility-information.com, a website provided by Merck.

If you have any other queries or concerns please contact the nurse coordinators at the clinic where you are receiving your treatment and they will be able to answer your questions.

More information

We also have this more extensive section of FAQs 

Our patients offer their advice about surviving injections 

Common questions about male infertility 

Major causes of female infertility

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