Monday, 15 June 2015

IVF: Pen or Syringe?

I'm in the lucky (though that's probably not the right word to use) position to have had experience of IVF treatment in two different hospitals now so I've experienced two different kinds of treatment. Today I thought I'd share my thoughts on two different ways of administering the medications needed during IVF treatment.

When we had treatment at the Glasgow Nuffield we were given the choice between using a prefilled 'pen' to administer our injections or old-fashioned medical syringes. I immediately went with the pen option because mixing medications sounded way too complicated for me.

This time around treatment has been with Glasgow Royal Infirmary and you get no such choice. I'll admit, this really freaked me out. There's already so much to remember and do during IVF treatment that adding other complications to the mix just doesn't bode well. But it turns out it's not as bad as you will might expect.

What I liked about the pens:

  • The medication is all ready for you, just stick it in and press a button. Easy.
  • Easy to store and transport; everything you need is in a box, you take it out, use it and put it back in the fridge, if you're out somewhere it's just the medication and a sharps bucket to take with you.
What I didn't like about the pens:
  • It can be hard to know if you've given yourself the full dose; you have to press the button down about ten seconds but if you pull it out and there's still liquid on the end you have to do it all over again.
  • You're still giving yourself an injection, just because it's in pretty packaging doesn't make it any easier.
What I liked about the syringes:
  • It's a lot easier than it looks, once you get into a routine and get the hang of mixing everything it really is simple.
  • You can see the medicine going in, there's no way of having any left over because once that plunger is down there's nothing left in the syringe.
What I didn't like about the syringes:
  • Feels like a greater margin for error; one of my last doses of Menopur I nearly cocked it up by bending the needle which meant starting over on the process; you can't help but worry that you're not going to mix it properly or you'll do something wrong.
  • There's a lot more equipment involved; you've got a vial of powder, you've got syringes (a syringe of water and an empty one for the injection), you've got needles, you've got your sharps bucket. It's just not as portable.
As you can see, lots of the things that are good about one are what's bad about others. At the end of the day, it's about personal preference and what you think you can cope with.

Personally I was dead against the syringes; the pens seemed so much more practical for me. Now I've had the experience of both, I'm actually perfectly happy with the syringes. Yes, it's a bit of a faff sometimes (my Cetrotide in particular; squirt water into a vial of powder, stir it with the needle, suck it up, change needles, then inject it) but once you get used to it, it's actually quite easy.

Have you gone through fertility treatment? Did you get a choice in what you used? Which do you prefer?

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Let me know what you think. :-)