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How to overcome fear and self-inject for fertility treatment – by Jo Sinclair
Fertility treatment is stressful, and one of the things many women dread is the injections – especially when they have to self-administer the shots. Do you have to self-inject for your fertility treatment? Let our amazing Agony Auntie Jo Sinclair talk you through how to inject yourself for IVF.
Self-injecting when you’re scared of needles
If you have to self-inject, it’s very common to feel anxious and daunted by the thought of administering the shots yourself. That’s totally normal. It really is possible to get past this though and become an absolute pro at doing your own shots. I’ve seen plenty of women do this, even women who absolutely hate needles & don’t think they can go through with it. Fertility treatment is tough, so cut yourself some slack about being scared because that’s normal, but remember – you are stronger than you think you are.
The first thing to remember, if you are new to self-administering injections, is that these shots are designed for people who aren’t doctors or nurses. This means they’re made to be easier to administer. A lot of time and money went into the research and deployment of the products and needles, to ensure there is minimal pain and discomfort. Finally, they go into a fatty area on your tummy, and this isn’t an area that’s overly sensitive.
Being faced with all the boxes of medication it can feel overwhelming, but most of it is just packaging! There is always a lot of packaging on medical items, so please don’t feel intimidated by it. After a couple of shots, you will form a routine, and the process and administration will get easier. This will do wonders for your anxiety, and you might even start to feel like a bit of a warrior-woman once you get the hang of it!
Practical tips to help you self-inject
You can apply ice to the area before injection but do so with great caution. No more than a few minutes at a time, as any more than 10 minutes can lead to frostbite. When I did this myself that just a few seconds was enough to desensitize the area, and hey presto! Hardly felt a thing.
Alternatively, a little pinching of the skin can also help to desensitize the area prior to the actual insertion of the needle, and it also gives you a firmer area in which to do your thing. If like me, you have a little bit of a wobbly tummy, then you can pinch more than an inch in that area!
Still anxious? Breathing techniques are so helpful. You want to try and avoid tensing up, and try to relax your jaw and shoulders, and breathe slowly and deeply.
Still, hesitating? Try and think about why you are doing this, and have some visualisations and positive thoughts about your end goal to motivate and help you to focus on a positive outcome. You can even make up your own affirmations or talk out loud and make up some positive wishes as you undertake the injections. This will distract you from the clinical process, and enhance your emotional, positive connection to your purpose and your wishes and hopes for the end goal.
You’re not on your own with this! Any good clinic will support you as much as you need, so don’t be afraid to call in them for help. This could be in the form of video calls and virtual assistance, or even for more hands-on help if needed.
Many drugs come with injector pens and additional physical and educational materials to further help you to be able to master this and sail through the process with confidence.
Can numbing cream help with self-injection?
Your doctor can prescribe or you can buy cream from any reputable pharmacist to help to numb the area prior to injecting if you feel this may help. This can be helpful if you feel a little tender or bruised. When possible, alternate sides and move the point at which you inject by a few centimeters each time, so that you are not repeatedly injecting on the exact same spot. Your tummy will thank you for it.
You can do it!
Injecting yourself isn’t exactly fun, but you can work through your fears and apprehension and achieve this goal. It’s important to remember that your body and mind work together, and we want them to be supporting each other and working in harmony.
If you chicken out of the shot at the last minute
This is common too, don’t worry! Try to let your anxiety go and focus on the positive outcome. When we feel anxious our brain will interpret worry or stress as a form of danger. Our brain can’t distinguish between an anticipated danger or fear or a real one. So always ask yourself – is the needle a real danger to you? A danger of immense pain, or life-threatening? NO! But your brain can not always define the difference, and will quickly release cortisol and adrenaline that isn’t pleasant or good for you. To avoid this build-up of anxiety, try and maintain a healthy and realistic perspective. Support and strategies are the best way of overcoming nervousness about self-injection, and it doesn’t matter how many goes you need to have – as long as you get there eventually! and that’s how to inject yourself for IVF.