So this is Part II of my writing about the steps involved in IVF. The entire process takes about two weeks and I intend to run these posts in real time (i.e. following the treatment schedule and length of time on each medication).
The second phase of the stimulation stage of IVF is taking medication to suppress my own reproductive system. This whole process is such a science, the doctors don't want to risk my body stepping in and inevitably doing something that will mess up our plan.
After a few days of injecting Follistim, my doctors added Ganirelix to my medication regime. There are two possibilities for this suppression medication: Lupron or Ganirelix. Patients must start injecting Lupron several days prior to getting their period. Ganirelix, on the other hand, can be injected five days into the patient's cycle. Since my cycle is so unpredictable, that option made more sense for me.
The Ganirelix shots aren't too bad. They come in a pre-filled syringe so to give myself the injection, I just wipe my skin with an alcohol swab, pop the needle guard off the syringe and clear out the air bubbles. Quite simple, which is nice, particularly considering at this point, I was giving myself two injections of medication a day.
Ganirelix shots go in the abdomen and the only real side effect I've experienced is itchiness across my stomach. On the first day in particular it was really bad. I don't think it helped that after giving myself the shots, I put on a pair of tights and drove 30 minutes to work. I was seriously ready to claw off the skin on my stomach that day! The second day, the itching was far less, though it picked back up again on the third day. Ultimately I only took Ganirelix four times.
During the stimulation process, I went to my doctor's office for blood work and ultrasounds every 2-3 days. The first day I was set to take my Ganirelix, the nurse called to remind me to bring it with me to my appointment. I assumed that she'd show me how to do the injection or have some other tips. However, once I got there, she explained that I should take the Ganirelix only after I've done my blood work.
Nurse: Do you want me to write it down?
Me: Um, no I think I can remember that.
Nurse: Are you sure? It's really important because we want to measure your blood levels...
Me (cutting her off): Yeah, yeah, my pre-suppression blood levels.
She seemed uber-impressed that (a) I managed to come up with a fancy $5 word like "suppression" and (b) that I was capable of remembering such basic instructions without her writing it down.
Again, I swear, there should be intelligence tests prior to procreation. I can only imagine some of the meat heads she encounters on a day to day basis.
Of all the medications I had to take for my IVF cycle, I'd classify the Ganirelix as the least troublesome: no real pain, no real side effects, and easy to administer. Ultimately I took Ganirelix for four days and the evening of my last Ganirelix injection, I took a "trigger" shot of HCG and Lupron so stay tuned Thursday evening to read about that.