April 18, 2017. By CFA.
It’s bad enough that you have an infertility diagnosis, but now you have to give yourself daily hormone injections?
Thus is the life for many women who find out they need to use fertility injections for IUI or IVF. The majority of the hormone injections are considered subcutaneously – meaning they’re injected underneath the skin but not all the way into the muscle –and they are typically self-administered (or partner administered, depending on the situation). Others are intra-muscular, meaning they have to get through the skin and fatty tissue and all the way into the muscles to be effective.
Tips for Making Subcutaneous Hormone Injections Less Painful
Giving oneself injections is never fun, especially if you have any fear of needles. However, it’s a must with certain fertility treatments, so all we can do is tell you that you are not alone, and provide tips for reducing the pain and discomfort surrounding daily hormone injections.
As with anything in life, there are different strokes (or jabs, or pokes or pinches…) for different folks; what works for one might not work for all. However, the following tips come straight from the thighs, bums and tummies of our very own patients.
- Don’t rush the process. For some, the effort to “hurry up and get it over with” leads to bigger problems – injections that don’t make it all the way in, needles that jab harder than necessary and cause bruising, medication that leaks out of the needle (causing you to start all over again), etc. Yes, efficiency is important but slow and steady wins the race – and reduces the chance of mishaps.
- Disinfect your hands and injection site. Make sure to wash your hands with warm, soapy water and always disinfect the injections site with alcohol prior to the injection. Forgetting these two simple steps can result in an infection at the site, and that can be more painful than any injections you’d ever receive. Plus the last thing you want to do is increase inflammation since inflammation might inhibit your fertility treatment.
- Relax as much as possible. Tensing the body actually increases, rather than releases, pain so there’s that. If you’re taking intra-muscular injections, as opposed to subcutaneous injections, a tense muscle will hurt more and odds are it will bunk the needle or not allow the injection to flow, which leaves you back at square one – and extra sore.
- Take advantage of (and give thanks for) your muffin top. While subcutaneous injections can be given in the thigh, the wide majority of our patients tell us that they give thanks to their little muffin tops all the time because those layers of extra fat help to cushion the injection site and since fat cells don’t have nerves, there’s a lot less to feel.
- Ice the site ahead of time. Putting an ice pack on the injection site ahead of time (about five minutes or so) can help to numb those outermost nerves. For some patients, that and the pinch method (see next) are enough to make the injections a non-issue.
- Pinch the tissue firmly. A nice firm pinch creates a very general, but consistent combination of pressure and slight discomfort that can work to take the body’s mind off of the more acute pain a needle, and the subsequent entrance of the ensuing injection of the hormone dose. While you don’t want to pinch so hard that you bruise, experiment with the pressure that works best for you.
- Choose a less nervy spot. Yes, there are places on your body that have less nerves and some that have more. By lightly poking then end of a needle in this spot and then slightly up, down, left or right, you’ll notice that some points that are more sensitive than others. Give a few small pricks and the ones that really make you wince are a no-go, while the others will be the best sites for the injection.
- Be prepared for the sting. You want all of your motions to be as smooth as possible when the needle goes in, as well as when it comes out. Be prepared for the fact that the fluid can sting when it enters the subcutaneous tissues, and don’t be tempted to jerk the needle out to fast or it can cause more injury at the injection site.
- Massage the site and use warm packs. After you’ve completed the injection, some patients find it comforting to gently massage the area around the site and/or to add heat off and on for the hours following it. If nothing else, this will provide comfort for newbies until you’ve gotten the hang of it a bit more.
- Don’t leave home without them. Don’t forget to take the correct supply with you if you’re traveling out of town on business or heading away for a weekend or a vacation. While most pharmacies will be able to help out in a pinch, you just never know. Read, Traveling With Fertility Medications, for more information on this topic.
Do you have any tricks of the trade when it comes to making fertility injections less painful? Please share them with CFA patients and followers below.