IVF Week 1: Stims

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A wrap up of ICF Week 1: our first round of stims!

We are officially wrapping up week one of stimming (injections), and let’s just say it wasn’t what I expected! Ok, I don’t really know what I expected. After all, COVID-19 has really thrown us a curveball when it comes to approaching IVF the “normal” way.

After a long and painful (mentally and physically) couple of months, we finally saw some light. My husband had a successful microTESE surgery after being diagnosed with non-obstructive azoospermia (NOA), a form of male factor infertility (MFI). And soon after, we got the go-ahead to begin my fertility treatment in preparation for my first attempt at in vitro fertilization (IVF) – eek!

I have been trying to log my IVF stimulation day by day for many reasons. One, to understand how my body responds to the drugs since we will have to do this again for any children we wish to have. And two, so I could offer up a real, honest diary of what to expect for anyone new to in vitro fertilization.

But first…

What is Stimming?

If you’re starting IVF, or considering it, then you’ve most definitely learned some of the basic terminologies during your journey (TTC, BFP, BFN, DH, etc.). Let me tell you… you’ve barely scratched the surface. As we learned that we would need to undergo fertility treatment to conceive, I naturally browsed all of my favorite community groups to get real-life perspective on the process. 

I kept on coming across terms and acronyms that were completely unfamiliar to me, one of which being ‘stimming.’ What does stimming mean?

Well, in the world of IVF, it’s the use of fertility drugs to stimulate your ovaries to produce egg-containing follicles. But not just one or two, like your body would naturally produce in any given month. The goal with stims is to get your body to produce several eggs at once to increase your odds of extracting as many as possible at the time of your egg retrieval, that will be fertilized by sperm to create embryos! The more healthy eggs you get, the more embryos you can create. The more embryos you create, the better your chance at having a baby.

Depending on why you are receiving IVF treatment in the first place, your prescriptions and stim schedule may vary. If this is your first round, your treatment plan will likely look similar to your peers. If this isn’t your first rodeo, your RE may have adjusted your schedule to reflect higher or lower dosages, depending on how your body responded the first time.

In addition to the actual shots, you will be going to your fertility clinic several times throughout the process for ultrasounds and bloodwork to see how your body is responding to the hormones and to keep an eye on your follicle growth. After each visit, you will get a phone call where they will either tell you to continue with your dosages as originally provided or to make adjustments.

How do you feel during IVF stimulation?

Well, I can’t speak for everyone, as each individual is seeking treatment for varying reasons. However, I have learned that the symptoms I am experiencing are completely normal.

Stims can make you feel fatigued, nauseous, induce headaches, bloated (and I mean BLOATED), and crampy. 

This is not including the mental aspect of it all. Let’s just say, if you are going through IVF, you are a ROCKSTAR! This is not for the faint of heart, and every day that you go through this… just know that there are many of us out there that can relate and understand that this is both physically and mentally taxing.

Stim Schedule – Week 1

After getting the go-ahead to start my injections, the first thing I did was create a big calendar on a dry erase board. 

Here is a peek at what my schedule looked like, and how I felt each day. But, let me preface by saying that when I stopped my birth control, I only had very light spotting and never got a full flow. After a week of waiting, I was called in for my baseline ultrasound and bloodwork. 

Day 1

Stims: Gonal F – 150 iu, Menopur – 75iu

How I felt: Totally fine. Injections are taken at night between 5pm and 10pm, so it was too soon to have any symptoms. The only thing I felt was a burning sensation associated with the Menopur injection, which is totally common and to be expected. 

Day 2 

Stims: Gonal F – 150 iu, Menopur – 75iu

How I felt: Total exhaustion, took 2 naps which is very unlike me. Menopur still burns going in.

Day 3 

Stims: Gonal F – 150 iu, Menopur – 75iu

How I felt: Less tired, but cramps are beginning to start.

Day 4 

Morning Bloodwork and Ultrasound Check-in. “Lots” of follicles, but only one worth measuring at this time – Left Ovary: 12.7mm.

Stims: Gonal F – 150 iu, Menopur – 75iu, Cetrotide – .25

How I felt: A little fatigued, cramps are similar to that of menstruation. Skin reaction to the newly introduced Cetrotide – itchy, red, and blotchy. Menopur still burns going in.

Day 5 

Stims: Gonal F – 150 iu, Menopur – 75iu, Cetrotide – .25

How I felt: Slight headache, but decent day overall. Bloating starts. Small skin reaction to Cetrotide, but not as bad as Day 4. Menopur still burns going in.

Day 6

Stims: Gonal F – 150 iu, Menopur – 75iu, Cetrotide – .25

How I felt: Super crampy, feels like ovaries are going to drop out of me when I stand up. EXTREMELY bloated. Lots of cervical mucus. Menopur still burns going in.

Day 7

Morning Bloodwork and Ultrasound Check-in. Nurse advised me not to exercise (including walking!), and to return for another check-in on Day 8. Left Ovary: 14.3mm, 22.7mm (woah), 11.9mm, 10.9mm, 10.0mm, 8.6mm, 8.7mm. Right Ovary: 10.4 mm, 9.7mm.

Stims: Gonal F – 150 iu, Menopur – 75iu, Cetrotide – .25

How I felt: Still very bloated, cramps there but not as extreme. Menopur still burns going in.

I would say that IVF week 1 went well. While it did take some getting used to, it definitely gets easier with practice and time, and it’s definitely good to have help!

Our Azoospermia Success Story
Questions to Ask Your Fertility Doctor at Your Consultation
Post IVF Egg Retrieval Essentials

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