IVF hormone injections and symptoms

by - August 28, 2023

After spending 2022 trying to figure out why we weren't pregnant, we started this year trying to make viable embryos.

2023 did not start off well for me. In January, I had my initial IVF appointment and had to get some blood tests. In February I had a hives breakout that wiped me out and then because my immune system took a beating, I immediately got a cold as soon as I started to overcome my allergy symptoms, followed by a bout of food poisoning. The worst part was, during the initial appointment, my new fertility doctor was baffled as to why my previous doctor put me on thyroid medications when my blood results showed I had normal thyroid function. Serenity now! 

I had to delay my egg collection because my blood results came back with a high level of a stress hormone, which was explained away by my allergies but we still had to wait until I was well enough to begin the IVF medications. The nurses sent my script to a specific pharmacy in Spring Hill, Brisbane. I could either pick it up in person or have it couriered. I opted to go get it and I'm glad I did because the pharmacist ended up stepping me through the injection process. I still watched instruction videos but I always feel better with in-person demos. 

There would be 10-12 days of injections depending on my cycle and when the doctor was available for consultation. Keep in mind when reading the below that there are different types of IVF hormones and doses - it's all catered to your specific needs so don't read this as a standard medication plan - it is what was best for me.

I had 11 days of Ovaleap 600IU injections to grow my follicles and increase the number of eggs to increase my chance of having some healthy eggs. I did not enjoy the injection pen. It had a sliding mechanism that made it go from 1 to 100 in speed, and the sudden shot of fluid into the belly hurt. This one gave me bruising most of the time.

From days 8-11, I started a second injection of Ganirelix / Orgalutran 250mcg to stop my eggs from being released from their follicles. This medication came with a slightly bigger needle tip but thankfully was a regular push syringe so I could control the speed at which I injected myself. By now, I was very bruised and tender so while I don't think this one bruised me, I was achy overall from the pen injections.

I am grateful my cycle meant I could get my scan on Day 11 and I skipped the last day of injections. On Day 11, my doctor did an ultrasound to confirm the meds had worked a treat and I had many follicles on both my left and right ovaries. He booked me in for an egg collection two days later. The night of the scan I injected myself with 2 syringes of Decapeptyl exactly 36 hours before my collection was scheduled.

Even though I dread the thought of doing another IVF round, the bruising and tenderness were probably the best of the side effects from the hormones. I experienced every common side effect listed on the warning labels and the severe and rare side effects as well. My symptoms ranged from standard bloating and gas to redness, soreness then my favourite: hives on my chest and neck. I contacted the clinic about the hives and ended up taking antihistamines and an ice pack. After the first couple of days, my body adjusted and the hives went away.

The scariest side effects were on the night of Day 8 when I first injected the Ganirelix. I injected myself at 7am each morning, and by 3pm that day I was feeling nauseous and bloated. By 6pm I was short of breath and had developed huge cankles to the point where when Boyfriend Pham came home, I got up to greet him and he said, 'Whoa, I think you should sit down.' So I did. I sat back on the couch and elevated my legs and pondered whether this was the rapid weight gain that I was meant to seek immediate medical help for.

I decided that if I went to emergency now on a Friday night and I wasn't in immediate danger then I'd wait around for hours while people with more urgent health issues were seen before me. So I would go in the morning after some sleep. I'm glad I did because I woke up to find my swollen legs and ankles had started to deflate. The next injection of Ganirelix didn't have the same side effects so I assume my body had just needed a bit of time to adjust to my new hormone levels.

As always, if you have any questions about my experience, feel free to email me via the email icon top-right if you aren't comfortable commenting. 

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