Fertility Network UK
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IVF tips for a squeamish person

Hi there, I’m 35, ttc#1 and have unexplained infertility. It’s been 2 years of ttc and had loads of tests to no avail so we are being referred for IVF. I’m terrified, I am a total wimp about needles and hospitals and almost faint most times I have blood taken (that’s after 8 weeks of CBT which did really help!) so this is a real challenge for me. I know it’s ridiculous and I know giving birth is way worse and all that, but this is how I feel.

Does anyone have any tips that might help me? I’m not all that worried about self-injecting, for some reason, but the egg retrieval is the thing that is giving me nightmares already. The idea of having a cannula makes me want to cry, and after my HSG which was truly agonising I am also really scared of basically anything involving a speculum. I used to be fine about that type of stuff but that experience has really screwed me up. I’m due a smear soon so will try to use that to regain some confidence as I have always found them ok.

Also any books that anyone could suggest would be v welcome.

Thanks for reading

Good luck and huge respect to all those going through this stuff, it’s so hard

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I know exactly how you feel! I am awful when it comes to needles or anything like that and faint at every blood test and it’s even worse as they can never find a vein.

I don’t really have any advice to be honest but I feel when I’m faced with a challenge like IVF or something I know I have to go through and want to have the end result I manage to do it (somehow!). Hubby did all my injections as there was no way I was going to be able to do them though.

With regards to a cannula that actually was the easiest part! I was shaking like a leaf and dreading that part the most as never had anything in my hand and it was absolutely fine and I know I won’t worry about having one again.

I hope someone can give you some good advice but when you do it you’ll be so proud of yourself I know I was xx

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You will have pain relief for egg collection and most of the women on here seem to have been “out of it” for their egg collections. I seem to be an exception to the rule because I was fully awake lol. My cannula was inserted into my arm joint (where they take blood) that wasn’t so bad. If a cannula is inserted correctly it shouldn’t be too painful xx

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I'm a real wimp too. I tell hospital staff very clearly that I have to lie down for blood tests or I'll faint, which I have done twice. This is usually fine when it's NHS but we were treated at 2 private clinics they have been a bit funny about it. One nasty lady even told me to "get used to it" if I was going to go through IVF. I complained about her.

The needles for injecting yourself are really fine and don't hurt. I got hubby to mix up and put the stuff in the syringe and then I injected it. I got myself in a real state at a nurse appointment and she offered to do an injection with saline water. To my surprise it didn't hurt and I then had a go and didn't faint or puke up. I couldn't look as I put the needle in. I managed to give myself a few bruises but ramming it in too hard.

For egg collection I had general anaesthetic as that was the policy of the clinic. I explained about my fear of needles at appointments and the wrote in big letters on my file and used magic cream (Emla?) for my hands for the cannula. I got really upset/anxious before the first EC and when the consultant asked what the matter was I said "I don't like needles" and his reply was "Neither do I." which made me laugh and relax a bit.

Good luck.

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Ah so I’m not funny about needles so I can’t help on that one I’m afraid, but I do have EC and transfer under sedation as I just could not bare it. Clinics are generally pretty understanding so if you ask you will generally get! Xx

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Egg collection- I was sedated and did not remember any of it, just had a lovely sleep. Let them know you’re scared before they put the cannula in and they’ll help you through. You might be less scared by then as you’ll have been injecting loads.

Self-injecting- I suck a sweet as I do it (sherbet lemons are my sweet of choice) as it takes my mind off it and gives me a little reward to look forward to! Sounds weird but it works for me!

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I was also terrified of egg collection...we have general anesthetic at my clinic which I'd never had before! I asked the clinic if I could go 1st on the day (ended up going 2nd but if ur the last one on the list u can end up waiting 3hrs to go in...by which point I'd have been a nervous wreck thinking I'd ovulated whilst waiting 🙈)...I was also terrified of the cannula but it's not a proper one...just a little butterfly one and doesn't hurt a bit. The scariest thing for me was walking into the theatre and being met with what felt like a hundred people in the room all rushing about....they all stopped when I walked in (shaking like a leaf) and they all said hello and introduced themselves. Once I was up on the bed I was only conscious for maybe 2 mins before the drugs went in and I was zonked right out...had a lovely sleep and woke up in recovery where 2 nurses were waiting for me...it was totally fine! Oh and the injections u do yourself...they don't hurt a bit.

My advice would be, don't think of ivf as one big thing...just break it down into smaller milestones and celebrate getting past each one. The treatment time is only about 6wks from beginning to end (on long protocol) and it will go in a flash xxx

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Thank you, everyone - it makes me feel better to know other people are scared too but have coped ok. I will make sure I tell the clinic about all my worries and hopefully they can help me too. I feel much more positive now so you’ve really helped ❤️

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I started Gonal-F on saturday past and today was day 3. I am not a person thats scared of needles at all, but 1st night took me 30 minutes to do it, i screamed cried jumped about lay on the floor phoned my hubby phoned my mum phoned my friend then stood and thought of all the woman who would do anything to get IVF and i stuck it in my tummy. Albeit i have a bruise but 2nd night took me 10 mins some tears but less time. Tonight it was wham bam done. Im not saying its a doddle but the needle genuinly doesnt hurt, you dont feel it at all, its more the psychological vibe behind it. Just count to 10, think of what u would do for a baby and for all the woman who would do anything to get ivf and breathe. I held my breath the 1st night and now 3 days in im breathing fine and gettin used 2 it. No matter your fear remember your motivations xxxx

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Well done you for doing it! I’m sure I’m going to have freak outs myself but I hope I will be able to overcome it as you have. As you say we are really lucky to have this option. I hope your cycle goes really smoothly and is successful for you - very best of luck!

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Day 4 and i spent moretime laughing at my hubby who was watching the football, he was holding his mouth to stop himself from shouting. You will be fine!! Take the 1st day as testing the water then the rest will fall into place ♡ xxx

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I’m needlephobic and was so scared before starting IVF. Here are some of my tips:

- ice tummy before and after injections.

- involve your partner, we did most of them together, his shift pattern allowing so it was a joint experience, we would laugh so much!

- have a happy playlist to play during injections and EC - they let you take music in

- get some EMLA cream and put it on before EC. It numbs the area and made the cannula part better. That’s also the but I hate.

- the pain relief is great for EC, I honestly can’t really remember it, it spaces you out!

- for any appointment ask if it is possible to use a smaller speculum - my Mum was a gynae/colposcopy nurse and she told me this was an option. They use the smallest they can for the procedure.

- use the Headspace app and breathing to keep you relaxed

Hope that helps. Good Luck xxx

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Hi

I took diazepam for all procedures, was totally freaking out, probably wasn’t the best but the doctors gave me a really low dose and believed that the stress the diazepam relieved was worth the risk - I would never recommend this but I felt I really didn’t have a choice- I couldn’t have done it with out- I found the HSG by far the worse part of all of this !! Good luck x x

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That’s reassuring to know - I have felt like such an idiot for finding the HSG so painful, and have been thinking that everything else would be worse. Well done you for being so brave and doing it all despite being so scared x

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If I can do it you can do it x x x😘

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Hi, I also did the IVF procedure, believe me, this can be experienced, it's not as scary as it seems to you. The main thing is to trust your doctors, if you do not understand something, or if something is bothering you, contact them with questions. They are obliged to answer every your question, and when you get answers to every question that bothers you it will become easier. Try to relax, many women have done IVF. Why do we think that you are weaker than other women? You are only 35 years old, you are still a young woman, many women do IVF after 40-50 years. Can you imagine how difficult it is for them? Try to become a strong woman, you can tolerate this pain. Because only after going through pain, both moral and physical, you can find a mother's happiness.

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Hi, really feel for you. I was petrified about the EC and the sedation but I made it known to the clinic how scared I was and they really looked after me. I didn’t feel a thing when the cannula went in and that was the part I was most worried about my last memory was telling the nurse how surreal it all felt and then I was gone! Hoping for the same this time as I’m starting to feel a little anxious again but it genuinely wasn’t that bad xx

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