All About Injectable Fertility Medications
Getting ready for an intensive schedule of injectable medications for your infertility treatment? While it is normal to feel anxious, don’t despair! You are not alone.
Women using injectables for infertility treatments often take a number of medications to help increase the chance of a pregnancy. Some women may receive as many as 90 shots in one fertility cycle!
If you find yourself overly concerned about this infertility treatment, have faith that these medications will help your body prepare for, and maintain, a pregnancy.
Types of injectables for infertility
Your unique diagnosis and treatment plan will determine the precise combination of injectable medications that you will need each fertility cycle. If you are undergoing assisted reproductive technology (ART) interventions like in vitro fertilization (IVF), anticipate that you may need several different medications with each ART cycle.
There are two primary types of injections given to women undergoing infertility treatment: subcutaneous and intramuscular. Subcutaneous medications are injected into the fat deposits just under the skin. Intramuscular medications are injected directly into the muscle.
It is important to pay attention to the type of injection you are prescribed for infertility treatment. Also, be sure to follow the dosing instructions carefully and dispose the needles properly in a special sharps container.
When not in use, store your medications in their proper environment, to maximize their potency.
What are GnRH agonists and GnRH antagonists?
These classes of medications are subcutaneous injections that suppress the body’s normal hormone functions, and prevent a woman from ovulating prematurely. These injections can help regulate ovulation to improve the chances of a pregnancy.
The injections are especially beneficial when used by women undergoing IVF. Examples of GnRH agonists include Leuprolide Acetate and Lupron. GnRH antagonists include Ganirelx Acetate and Cetrotide. Side effects from these medications are rare.
Gonadotropins stimulate the ovaries
Gonadotropin medications stimulate the ovaries and foster the development of healthy, mature eggs.
There are several groups of gonadotropins including the following:
- Follicle stimulating hormone (FSH)
- Follicle stimulating hormone with luteinizing hormone (FSH/LH)
- Luteinizing hormone (LH).
These medications can be given as intramuscular or subcutaneous injections.
If you take gonadotropins, you will be monitored by your doctor with transvaginal ultrasound and estradiol testing. Serious side effects are rare, but some women do develop ovarian cysts when taking these medications. These cysts often go away, although surgery can sometimes be necessary.
Each type of gonadotropin medicine is a bit different. Some gonadotropins come in vials, like Bravelle (FSH), Menopur (FSH/LH), and Repronex (FSH/LH). With these medications a needle-free Q-cap reconstitution device and syringe are used to mix the powder with the liquid before these injections are given.
Follistim and Gonal-F, both FSH medications, are both injected with a pen device. Luteinizing hormones (Luveris, Novarel, Profasi, and Ovidrel) are also in the class of human chorionic gonadotropins (hCG), and are used to stimulate ovulation. They also boost follicle and egg maturation and development.
Progesterone prepares the uterus for pregnancy
Progesterone is a hormone that is naturally produced by a woman’s ovaries after she ovulates. This helpful hormone keeps the uterine lining from shedding, so a fertilized egg can grow and implant itself into the uterus.
Some women do not produce enough progesterone to maintain a pregnancy. If you are diagnosed with insufficient progesterone levels, progesterone will be administered to you either vaginally or as an intramuscular injection. The administration of progesterone by injection is desirable as it maintains the highest blood levels of the hormone, and it can be taken daily for maximum effect.
The emotions of infertility treatments
Stress and feelings of being overwhelmed often accompany a woman’s first cycle of injectable medications. Some women find injections to be uncomfortable and unpleasant, although most women do get used to them.
Still, the benefit of these medications usually outweighs any discomfort or risks, as these injectable medications help many couples get pregnant after a diagnosis of infertility.
It is currently illegal to acquire fertility medications from outside the United States, so be safe and get approval of all injectable medications by your doctor. Try to incorporate the injectable medications into your routine in a positive way.
If needles make you nervous, talk to your doctor to see if your clinic offers a class where you can learn more about injections and how to properly administer them.
This content is Copyright The American Fertility Association (AFA) 2010. This content is intended for personal use and may not be distributed or reproduced without AFA consent. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit theafa.org for more information.Sources
- The American Fertility Association: How to Give and Receive an Injection A Guide for Infertility Patients and their Partners
- Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology: ART Patients: A Patient's Guide to Assisted Reproductive Technology
- RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association: Fertility Medicines