How I Was Able to Inject Myself During IVF Without Freaking Out Every Time

Lauren Manaker
·4 min read

Going through an IVF journey is hard no matter how you slice it. It's a roller coaster of emotions and can bring even the strongest person to tears.

And to add insult to injury, the process of IVF is physically no joke. If you are a person who just hates needles, the process of IVF can bring up some major feelings of anxiety.

I fall into the category of those who deeply fear needles. Even as an adult, I have to look the other way when I get my flu shot and have somebody (yes, even total strangers) hold my hand during the injection. Tattoos creep me out, and I never got a trendy belly button or upper ear ring when I was younger because I couldn't handle the pinch that comes with the process.

So when I learned that I had to poke myself with a needle to inject medication in order to conceive, I considered calling the whole IVF process off. As a person who avoids needles like it's my job, I simply could not see myself sticking one into my tummy every single day. But I wanted to be a mama, and I knew that I had to get over my fear of needles if I wanted that to happen.

My nurse had me practice injecting a needle into a fake piece of skin before I left the office with my medication. And while I mastered the process on the dummy, it did not make me feel any better about sticking myself. And though my husband sweetly offered to inject me, I knew that the anticipation of him poking me would just add more anxiety to the situation.

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Over time, I learned how to handle my needle anxiety after undergoing five rounds of IVF. My fear of needles still exist, but I found some tricks that I played on myself to get me through the process.

First, I would pinch my stomach skin to create a spot for the needle to be injected. My pinch was not a light squeeze. I would hold my two pinching fingers as close together as I could, so I would literally feel pain. This was not to be a sadist - it was because the pinching pain I was creating was far worse than the little pinch that the needle would create. It was a not-so-pleasant distraction. And I knew that the sooner I would get the injection over with, the sooner the pain would go away.

Next, before I would inject the needle into my skin, I would place it right where I wanted it to go, without puncturing my skin. I would hold the needle perpendicular to my abdomen just so I could not see the tip. I found that by not seeing the pointy part of the needle, it made the whole process seem less intimidating.

Finally, instead of quickly jamming the needle into my abdomen, I had a slower process. I would inhale, and then as I slowly exhaled, I would slowly push the needle where it needed to go and administer the medication. It was quite the opposite of what everyone recommended I do (just get it over with!), but the slow and steady process helped me be more mindful and calm.

And as a last step, I always gave myself a "prize" of either a frozen fruit pop or dark chocolate square – similar to how I would get a lollipop when I successfully got a shot in my youth. Juvenile? Yes – but it worked for me.

For better or for worse, I had almost five years of practice using needles while undergoing IVF and I found what worked for me. Am I a new fan of needles? Absolutely not! Do I still reward myself with a treat every time I get a flu shot? Totally! But I am now able to get shots and administer injectable medication with ease and in a calm and methodical way. And now that I am also a mama, I know the entire process was totally worth it in the long run.