Even as the conversation around IVF grows increasingly more public (see: comedian Amy Schumer’s Instagram post), there’s still a huge part of the experience that remains generally undiscussed. Notably, while people are quick to talk about the children they’ve added to their families through IVF, there’s little public discussion about the process of IVF itself. While even that is shifting, many people who go through IVF feel that they weren’t quite prepared for the ups and downs of the process.
And it’s easy to understand why — from medication side effects to relationship stress and daily injections, it isn’t typically a glamorous process. As a registered fertility nurse who has spent over a decade working in some of the top clinics in the U.S., I’ve supported many patients through one of the most painful parts of the fertility care process: having to self-administer injections. It can be isolating, and each treatment often requires thousands of dollars of specialty medication.
Even if you have a partner who can help, who do you turn to when you have questions about the right way to prepare your injections when you’re sitting in a work or airport bathroom staring at an array of medications and needles? Especially for those going through this for the first time, it’s nerve-wracking and, frankly, scary.
That’s why it’s critical to have support through the process. And while there are some ways to be there for your colleagues and loved ones that we’re all well-acquainted with, there are a few ways others can lend their support, as well. Here are some tips for self-injections and how to make them less intimidating.
1. Create a comfortable office environment.
Injections typically have a specific schedule to follow, and that may mean needing to self-administer injections outside the comfort of your home. Many offices have mother’s rooms for nursing; consider asking your employer if these spaces can be used for injection administration, as well. And employers can even take a more proactive approach — make it known to your employees that these spaces can be used for that purpose in advance of your employees coming and asking.
2. Know and embrace your flexible work schedules.
Hormone injections can have a number of side effects ranging from hot flashes and headaches to bloating and nausea. Make sure to familiarize yourself with your company’s flexible work offerings in advance to know what’s available if you find yourself dealing with a rough day. And for employers, the best thing is to be understanding: make sure to be clear that it’s okay to use sick time or work from home when dealing with the worst of IVF side effects.
3. Turn to the experts for help.
There are a number of resources available for people going through IVF treatment. At Carrot, we offer our members video appointments with fertility nurses, medication ordering support, and a library of resources to help guide people through their fertility journey. Videos like the one below can help with questions, and members can book a video appointment with a fertility nurse or medication expert if they’re still uncertain about what to do. If you’re an employer, make sure any fertility benefits you’re offering are there for your employees when they need them the most.
WATCH: How to self-inject 5 of the most common IVF medications
In these videos, we demonstrate how to self-inject five of the most common IVF medications: Follistim, Gonal-F, Menopur, progesterone, and a trigger shot.
By offering Carrot, employers give their employees access to a premium suite of care navigation features including live video appointments with fertility nurses while doing injections. They can also access these videos as part of a comprehensive library of content to support learning and understanding.
We’re making these videos publicly available because we know that so many people who may not have Carrot as an employer benefit are struggling through this experience — sometimes alone, sometimes with a partner — but almost always nervous and anxious. We want to help make a scary experience more comfortable for everyone.
Ready to offer Carrot at your company? Let’s talk.