Starting ICSI, new to the club.. advi... - Fertility Network UK

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Starting ICSI, new to the club.. advice please?


Hi all,

So I'm new to this group - and to the whole world of Fertility treatments. It all feels a little daunting and so I thought I'd write to say hello and see if any of you have any tips to share.

I will be receiving my package of medication tomorrow (and due to start tablets on the 29th). We are having ICSI treatment not IVF so I know my road ahead will be quite different from some of yours.

I'd like to know silly things I guess - diet wise are there any foods to avoid? I'm a vegetarian and have read that soy could be bad for you but then other reports say it's actually beneficial for those trying to conceive.

Acupuncture is something else I've read about.. is it best to have treatment regularly all the way through your ICSI/IVF cycle or just around transfer day?

How have people found working whilst being on the HCG injections?

What white lies have you told colleagues as you to why your bloated/not drinking without them all assuming your pregnant? (There have been 3 pregnancies in my workplace recently & I'm already dodging the "your next" winks so this one I'm perhaps a little sensitive about).

Is there anything to look out for when I've started treatment? My nurse has already told me to avoid ibuprofen but had I not asked about pain relief I wouldn't have known that.

I feel like I need an ICSI for dummies manual to read to help me get through the next 8 weeks. For now though any advice you lovely guys could give would be hugely appreciated!!

Laura Beth

20 Replies

Welcome to the forum, I haven't been through ICSI but have IVF so didn't want to read and run.

I've had Acupunture 3/4 cycles and find it really helps with my anxiety as well as being told it's good for the treatment side. I started a week before I was due to start down regulation and have weekly sessions.

As for the excuses that can become a little tricky, saying your on anti biotics can work or you ate something dodgy. I've also said I'm on a detox or have been suffering with migraines as for not drinking.

Try not to worry, everything does become clearer as you go on xx

Hi, I can't really offer advice but I am also not far off starting ICSI, I had my nurse planning consultation today so am just waiting for my period (which is due any day) and then the process begins.

For work, I am simply giving little information to my boss only, I've said that I have some health issues and will need time off or to work from home sometimes, once I have my schedule then I will have to advise of a bit more time off coming up but still don't plan on expanding why. I am very private though, we've not even told our family about this so I would not even consider telling work people.

Apart from having to drink lots of water because of medication, I wasn't advised of anything else regarding diet so will continue as normal.

Good luck with the proccess :)

in reply to KB11

We had our planning appointment with the nurse on Monday so it doesn't sound like we are far apart with our treatment cycles.

I'm planning on telling my manager when hes back off holiday, I know he will be supportive but like you I'm very private. We haven't told any family either - I'm debating it but I don't know if it will be a comfort or just added worry.

Thanks for the reply.

Good luck with everything! Xx

in reply to Laura_beth

I know everyone is different but the way i see it is that i wouldn't personally tell people if I were 'trying' naturally so see this in the same light. Plus I'm pretty sure my family would be upset for me and worry, and I don't need the extra pressure. I have told a close friend though so I have someone to talk to x

Hey it can be massively overwhelming. I actually was brutally honest and upfront with ppl which I know is not for everyone as this is such a personal matter but I figured it shouldn't be such a taboo subject. I'm sure you will receive loads of support on here. Just keep everyone updated and good luck x

in reply to ch319

This has been a great platform so far. I love the sense of community and that we're all in the same boat.

I really applaud your honest approach! Personally I'm not ready to tell the whole world yet but it's great that you're trying to tackle the taboo xx

Hey, welcome to the forum 👋

I remember that feeling very well. Being so anxious about it all and feeling clueless. Once you get started you'll soon get into the swing of everything.

I also did ICSI, I found the injections absolutely fine. I was so worried about it but they really weren't bad at all.

Diet wise I think just trying to eat a healthy and well balanced diet. Pineapple and Brazil nuts they say are good for after ET.

Acupuncture - I tried this for my frozen transfer in march and have to say it was ok but maybe not really for me. I wasn't keen on the lady who done this for me so maybe that was why but I just didn't feel like I ever really relaxed during acupuncture although I did always feel pretty relaxed after. I had about 5 or 6 sessions and they recommend having one before and afte ET.

For this frozen transfer I decided to try reflexology. I've had 2 sessions so far and find it very relaxing 🙂 With reflexology they advise a session every week or two during treatment but she told me that after ET it's not recommended and if it's a positive result she said that it's not recommended again until your around 12 weeks (I'm not sure why).

I didn't become bloated during IVF but I think just wearing some baggy clothing should hide it well if you do 🙂 As for questions about why your not drinking, I didn't have any of this as don't drink much anyway so never out with colleagues so I'm not too sure. Maybe just saying you've got an early start and can't drink or something. It's tough as I guess the minute someone isn't drinking people automatically assume it means you must be pregnant!

Anyway, good luck and if you have any other questions feel free to ask 🙂 Xxx

Hi :)

I've been through two cycles of ICSI, the first one was a long protocol and resulted in a BFN, we're currently in the 2ww for the second which was a short protocol.

Where to start!

Firstly, ask lots of questions; to us, to your clinic, to Google. Find out as much as you can as it will help you feel more prepared along the way. Also, read more than a few opinions on things as everyone has different experiences and where one answer may scare you, you will probably find ten answers that are much more positive.

We ate fairly healthily anyway so didn't change our food but we did cut out caffeine and alcohol and I drank more water during both cycles - but I found my body needed me to.

I found the injections ok, sometimes the timing could be a pain (found myself in a restaurant toilet once or twice) but once you've got into the swing of them you'll not worry too much. I found the tummy (below the belt button) easier to inject than my thighs (which bruised lots) but I alternated to try and avoid getting sore in one site. I only tended to feel grotty from the hormones near the end of treatment but I think this is different for everyone.

Like others I was also completely open with everyone about our journey for the first cycle. I used it as an education opportunity to help people understand more about the impact it has so they would think before they said inconsiderate things to those without children. It also allowed me to think of the process in a more clinical, detached way which weirdly helped me. And although I found facing people after the BFN greatly hard, I have found them to be much more respectful of my privacy for cycle two.

Finally, both oh and I took pregnancy vitamins for the first cycle and had 2 embies make it to day 4 but not great quality so transferred both early. For three months before the second cycle I took additional vitamin D, C & E, as well as ubiquinol & Alpha Lipoic Acid and my oh took ubiquinol and vit C - all to improve egg and sperm quality. This seemed to do a reasonable job as we had 4 good quality day 5 blastocysts and could freeze some this time :)

It's probably worth noting that cutting caffeine and alcohol, increasing exercise and taking vitamins helped improve my oh's swimmers each time.

I could go on forever with bits and pieces but I won't, just ask if there is anything more you'd like to know.

The best of luck on your journey xx

Hi, good luck with your cycle. I've also been through ICSI. In terms of differences to IVF the only one is the way which the sperm meets the egg, everything else e.g. medication is the same. I second the advice the other ladies have given so won't repeat. I would say re injections that if you're struggling some ladies find ice on the area first helps to numb it, though I didn't find necessary. Vary the injection site each night so you're not injecting in the same place each time - I did left, right, centre and alternated. I did mine around 10 at night so was more likely to be at home for them. I know some do in the morning but I didn't want to give up weekend lie-ins!

If you're having ICSI do you have male factors at play? If so make sure your partner is also following healthy lifestyle - no alcohol, caffeine and keep the lower area cool - loose fitting boxers, no mobiles in pockets, no sitting with laptop on knee etc.

Isn't there usually a sponsored dryathlon around the September/October mark? Could you say you are doing that if you're on a night out. Or say you need to drive? I also used to drink mocktails and just not tell people they were mocktails.

Anyway, good luck with your cycle and there's always plenty of friendly faces here if you have questions along the way or just need a good old moan!

in reply to Lynnr54


Thanks for the tips!

Varying the injection site like you have sounds like great advice, and quite easy to remember! I too will probably inject at night as my work start time varies most morning.

Yes my partner who is diabetic has retrograde ejaculation and so natural conception is impossible for us.

We are both trying to be healthier, although our clinic have already taken a frozen sample from him which currently they are happy too use.

Stopober! Yes. I'd forgotten about those sponsored things. It sounds like I drink all the time - not at all really. But socially when we meet with friends it's generally for dinner and drinks or the pub quiz so I'm just thinking ahead.

I'm sure I'll be using this site more over the next few months as I'm learning so much already xx

Also meant to say that I was eating a lot of soy based products when we were trying naturally and it really messed with my cycle...presumably because the phytoestrogens in them mimicked natural estrogen and my hormone balance went off kilter. It all went back to normal when I cut back on soy.


Hi Laura_beth good luck with your icsi. We also did icsi rather than ivf, don't worry too much about the differences - aside from how they do the stuff in the lab there aren't really any. I am mostly vegan so it is difficult sometimes to listen to (or ignore!) the hype! I eat soy but try to limit, so I'll have soya mince every so often and have a soya yogurt most days. I susbitute with rice milk, but as you're veggie you won't have to worry about that. II would just try to eat loads of vegetables rather than depending on soya products too much which I'm sure you already do anyway. I'm not sure I believe all the stories about soya but supposedly it can interfere with oestrogen so I limited it during treatment. I do reflexology and was told when I gave up meat that my hormones completely balanced out, so there's loads of hormones in meat too! I understand your concern about drinking, I was a pretty big wine drinker before but take each occasion as it comes. If you really don't want people to know you can order a drink but just don't drink it. I just got to the stage where I couldn't be bothered, and let people come to whatever conclusion they wanted!! Hope it goes well and please do ask any questions on here xxxx

in reply to Lilli79

Hi Lilli,

It's great to hear you're also eating soy yoghurt! It's a staple of mine and lately I'd stopped having any as I was worried about how much soy I was eating.

Reflexology is something i'll definitely look into! Thanks for the tip.

I don't generally drink all that much but we sometimes have a night at the pub catching up with friends - who are the type to buy you a drink even when you say you don't want one! But you're right and I shouldn't worry so much. People generally think what they want too anyway! Xx

in reply to Laura_beth

Hiya, yeah my most difficult time to hide the non drinking was at small pub gatherings as people become aware that you're not drinking the drink that you have!! If these are friends you could tell I would suggest just saying that you are doing ivf treatment for the next few months and can't drink. We told some of our friends and it was never mentioned again and most people a) don't understand what goes on in ivf and b) are too afraid to ask if it was successful just in case. So we haven't really had any problems since. I went to a couple of parties since we had our BFP and they were fine, except my dad loudly announcing that I wasn't drinking much. He has the subtlety of a brick, lol!!

The only thing I'd add to the excellent advice given above is make sure you and your partner keep talking and are kind to each other. I'm making the assumption that you're having ICSI because there are some sperm issues- please ignore this if that's not the case. I found my partner drinking alcohol during our ICSI treatment quite annoying and at times I did think "I'm having to go through treatment for an issue that you have- and you can't even say no to a beer?" We got past it and we got our bfp but better communication between us would have made life a bit nicer. Good luck for your cycle xx

in reply to Kernishp

I know what you mean!

We are having ICSI as my partner has retrograde ejaculation and so sadly natural conception is pretty much impossible for us.

He has already given a frozen sample which the lab are happy to use so currently is unlikely to need to do anything else during this treatment cycle - not very fair really.

But you're right communication is definitely key here - supporting each other and being open about exactly how you feel hopefully stop things feeling so stressful!

Thank you so much for the reply xx

We had ICSI twice (BFN 1st time, 2nd time only 1 egg collected which didn't survive overnight). Only difference between ICSI & IVF is how the embryo is created. Injections are fine once the first one is out of the way - it's easy!! I was told to inject in thigh rather than stomach.

As for accupuncture, I had sessions for 2nd cycle - some places advice that you should have it in preparation for your cycle but that can get really expensive (as if this process wasn't expensive enough!!!) Critical points for accupuncture is before & after transfer.

We didn't tell anyone at work but all my appointments were before work & we didn't have any nights out so I didn't have to address the no drinking rule!! I'm sure you'll work out something for that.

I think during this process you have to pretend as if you're pregnant and do (or not do) everything a pregnant woman would do. It completely sucks when you do all of this & it doesn't work but hopefully that will not happen to you. Pain relief is paracetamol, no ibuprofen as I think it thins the blood so could cause bleeding - and you most certainly don't want that!!

Good luck with your treatment, it's a great bunch of people on this forum so there's always help around! x

Hi. We went through ICSI and now have a beautiful daughter who will be 2 in September. We had one fresh round which didn't work but we were left with two embryos which we froze. Our daughter was born as a result of our first FET. We are now slap bang in the middle of treatment to use our last remaining embryo.

In terms of diet and what to avoid I would just say use common sense. I only avoided alcohol and just made sure I ate healthy. I didn't cut anything out of my diet or add anything to it.

At work I had lots of 'dermatologist' appointments 😂 which also helped cover up the fact my skin went crazy due to the injections.

I totally understand how daunting the whole process can seem at first. You are welcome to ask me any questions about the ICSI whenever you want and I can try and answer them 😳 sending lots of love and luck for your journey 💕

in reply to al0208


It's so great to hear of your ICSI success. Fingers crossed this round is just as wonderful for you.

Seeing a dermatologist is a great excuse. I actually have quite hormonal skin anyway - was it just while having injections that you had a flare up or throughout the whole process?

Thank you so much. I'm sure ill have lots of questions throughout our treatment so i'm sure I'll be in touch 😊

Good luck with everything xx

Thank you x I had problem skin before the treatment anyway and had actually seen a dermatologist for this so it wasn't a total lie ☺️ I just had some 'typical hormonal' flare ups when using the injections nothing major. My skin was actually worse when I was pregnant.

As I say any questions I can try and answer for you I will. I'm in no way an expert but will help if I can xx

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