Fertility Medications ~ Get Ready, Get Set, Go
Getting ready to do a fertility cycle means lots of things. If you are undergoing an IVF (in vitro fertilization) cycle at RMACT, it will mean attending a “teach” class. A teach class is exactly that; a class that teaches you what you need to know about administering fertility medications. Our knowledgeable fertility nurses will walk you through, step by step, the particulars of the various medications that you will need to use to have a successful IVF cycle.
There are a variety of medications that are used at different times of your cycle to suppress or stimulate hormones and it’s necessary for you to know which ones to use at which times. Nothing is left to chance however, so there are a variety of ways for you to know how to proceed once your cycle starts.
The first step is the teach class, but it’s not the last way to get information about how to take your medications. The medications also come clearly marked about what they are and what they are used for; nothing is left to chance or misunderstanding. There are detailed, written directions to reference as well. At RMACT, we also have a patient portal, which has detailed video recordings (similar to the teach class), describing what needs to be done and when.
Of course, speaking to your patient navigator or nurse is always an option if you have questions that are unable to be answered in other ways or you want to double check that you understand the directions correctly.
As always, you are not alone in this. Fertility treatments are sophisticated and oftentimes complicated. Fertility medications can be as well. Questions are a normal way of understanding the procedures involved. Don’t be surprised if you have more questions after a teach class or after watching a video.
Tips for Understanding Fertility Medicine
Here are a few suggestions:
- Go to the teach class on a good night sleep, having eaten properly and with something to drink so that you can pay the best attention possible
- Write any questions down and ask them at the teach class. Write the answers down
- Attend class with a partner, spouse or friend if possible. Having a second set of ears and eyes is very helpful
- If you have more questions after the class that you were unable to ask or that came up after reviewing the medication materials, do the following:
- Check more than one source to find answers, such as the written directions or videos on the patient portal
- Ask questions of your patient navigator and nurse
It’s important that you understand the directions. They can feel difficult and complicated. You may feel embarrassed that you don’t get it. Know that you are not the first nor will you be the last who has difficulties understanding what to do. The chances that you are going to ask questions that have never been asked before are very slim. Our wonderful, dedicated nurses are used to being asked questions. They want you to understand and will do what is needed to ensure that you do. Please don’t worry about being a difficult patient; ask the questions that you need to. The most heartbreaking thing is to have a patient be unwilling to ask a question and compromise their fertility cycle because of an error in medication application.
Know too, that small errors are common. They are not usually catastrophic and often not even compromising. Just make sure that your nurse and fertility doctor know immediately if you have made a mistake so that they can help you make any adjustments that are necessary.
Many patients tell us that once they start, they find a groove and it becomes much easier. That the first step in taking the medication is the most challenging. That the first fertility injection is the most intimidating.
Ask questions, find answers, take your time. This whole process is so much easier when you do those three things.
And as always, we’re here to help.
Follow Lisa on Google+
The questions about fertility medications abound. What are the side effects? How likely is it that I will feel any of them? How quickly will I experience them? Does my having side effects mean that I should not use that medication? That list probably just touches on a few of the questions that many of us have when it’s determined that we need to use fertility medications.
Let’s face it, I’d bet that there’s not a woman out there that actually wants to use fertility medications. We would prefer to get pregnant not needing to use them. And then it turns out there are side effects? Are you kidding me?
Emotional Side Effects
Today, I’m just going to talk about the emotional side effects of fertility medications. Please do feel free to post any questions to this blog about the medical side effects that you are wondering about and I will pass them on to our fertility endocrinologists. If you are in the middle of fertility treatment and have questions, please call your physicians with any concerns.
Back to emotional side effects of fertility medications.
Do fertility medications create emotional changes? Is it possible that taking medications can make you weepier, sadder, and less stable than usual?
The simple answer is yes.
The more complex answer is maybe.
Some women definitely react emotionally to the medications. We don’t really know if it’s because their systems are more sensitive or because they are more susceptible to increased hormone levels or another reason even less easily identified.
We do know that it’s not unusual either way. Any time there’s a group of women there will be a segment that feels overwrought, emotionally tender and more. They speak of being weepier than usual, more reactive than usual, less tolerant than usual. It’s as if all their defenses are down and their emotional immunity level is not as high as normal.
Some women, often those of us who predict we will have those types of side effects, just simply don’t. We are relieved to find that we barely notice being on the medications and there are no emotional side effects at all.
It becomes even more complicated though, when you either change or adjust medications or do another cycle. One set of reactions do not predict the next set of reactions.
Clomid vs. Injectable Medications
Interestingly enough, many women can have adverse emotional reactions to clomid and clomid type medications and have far less reaction when they move to the injectible medications. Interestingly in that often there is fear with the injectible medications, anxiety about fertility injections, that the reaction will be far worse.
It seems very safe to assume that giving yourself extra time and extra patience when you start medications would give you a buffer in case you do feel differently than normal. Extra pressure or even the normal amount of pressure may be too much at the time of starting a medical regime that includes powerful fertility medications. These medications are powerful. That is the point. For them to help your body do something that is not the typical. What’s typical for each of us is different. If you do not ovulate or menstruate normally and you start taking medication for that to occur, it is a change. Just like it’s a change for a woman who typically does ovulate and menstruate to take medications to increase how many eggs she produces.
These medications create changes. Changes that we want to see so that we can help you become pregnant. Changes that sometimes can create emotional highs and lows that you are not used to experiencing.
Give yourself a break. Please. If you feel weepier than usual, take the time to have a good cry. If you feel more reactive, getting angrier more easily, do more of the types of things that are soothing and comforting.
Mainly, just take it easy on yourself. These are not permanent changes; you will feel like yourself again when you are off the medications. Know that it is not easy. Really allow yourself to get that. These medications can make you feel very differently than you normally do.
Deep breath out. Deep breath in.
Follow Lisa on Google+
Handling Fertility Hormones
Hormones are funny. Funny, odd, not funny ha ha. As if infertility and fertility treatment wasn’t stressful and emotional enough, then there are the hormones. Extra hormones. LOL. Really. Extra hormones. Wanting to be pregnant, wanting your baby in your arms, finding that you can’t get pregnant the old fashioned way, need to go to a doctor, manage the financial aspects, the medical treatment, the numerous doctor’s appointments, not enough to make you crazy? Ok, and then let’s add some extra hormones to the mix.
Clomid Stories - One of Many
Ok, I remember my first experience on Clomid. It was not pretty. Who knows if it was really the hormones or just an emotional reaction to them? Who cares? I turned from a fairly normal, slightly neurotic woman into a crazed, over reactive harpy. No one could say anything to me about anything without getting shrieked at. It was really ugly.
My best friend, Pamela, took the fertility medications and did not have that reaction. I wanted to kill her most of all. If I had to be that miserable, was it too much to ask that she be just as miserable? Wasn’t that what a best friend would reasonably do?
If you think I am exaggerating, think again. I’m not.
My good news? For me, when I went to the injectible medications (which I didn’t want to do), it was a huge relief. I can’t emphasize enough how huge a relief it was. I had none of the reactions that I had on Clomid and it was a relief beyond relief, for everyone involved.
Sit and talk with a group of women in fertility treatment and it runs the gamut. Some of us have no reactions to some of the medications, some of us have big reactions to others and still others of us barely notice any of it, including the injections.
Fertility Injections and Anticipation
What struck me most was the anticipation. There are very few of us who are used to giving injections. Still less of us who are used to giving ourselves the injections. So along with the fear of reaction to the medication, there was also the anticipation of actually giving ourselves a shot. I sat there and counted to ten. That worked very well. I can still hear my husband laughing though, because I counted to ten about two hundred times. The first time I gave myself a fertiity injection, it took me twenty five minutes. Twenty five minutes to give myself an injection with a needle about the diameter of a single strand of my hair.
It was easier the second time.
The anticipation of being on the medication is similar. You hear horror stories, really, horrible stories, on the internet, on message boards, even from friends who have gone through fertility treatment. The quieter stories are those without those reactions. Those of us who take the medication and have elevated emotionality. Like that phrase? Sounds simple. You don’t have to have a horror story to feel more emotional and edgy.
What’s the moral of the story? Anticipation can easily turn into anxiety. Fertility treatment isn’t easy, at all, either physically or emotionally. Expect that treatment may be challenging, give yourself and those around you a break.
How do you handle these treatments and situations? Any suggestions for the rest of us?
Follow Lisa on Google+
Infertility treatment can be very simple or very complicated. Here's the run down on simple.
Intrauterine insemination and artificial insemination are the same thing. Both infertility treatment procedures place the sperm where it can meet the egg.
Sometimes these treatments are done with medications that cause you to produce more than one egg, sometimes they are done with no medications at all. The insemination is done using a catheter, with sperm that have been cleaned in a lab, placing the sperm through the cervix into the uterus.
Sometimes that's all it takes.
Sometimes it's even simpler. Sometimes it's properly timed sexual relations (intercourse) and understanding when you are ovulating. Knowing that day one of your cycle is the first day of menstruation and that ovulation will take place, in a cycle of 28 days on about day 14. That having sexual relations on day 12, 14 and 16 will work best for trying to conceive.
Sometimes conceiving is something right inbetween. There's medication that brings on ovulation so that an egg can become large and mature enough to be fertilized after it's been released and travelled down the fallopian tube. Then, instead of any type of insemination, you have sexual relations and allow sperm to travel up to the uterus through the vaginal canal.
There are simple solutions sometimes to infertility.
Infertility does not always mean that you will need IVF (Invitro Fertilization) or donor egg or other third party reproductive help.
Often, understanding your own reproductive health can make a difference. Keeping track of how often you get your period and how long it lasts is not only helpful to you, but also helpful if you should need help from a fertility specialist.
Do you know your family history can help too?
Did your mother have trouble becoming pregnant? Were her periods regular? When did she start menopause? Were her periods regular?
Knowing these simple things can make a difference in getting pregnant.
Moral of the story, don't assume that if you are having trouble getting pregnant, that your path to fertility will be long, expensive and overly involved.
It can be much shorter and easier than you ever thought possible.