The Experience of the Emotional & Physical Effects of Fertility Medication.

Updated on March 16, 2009
E.R. asks from Santa Maria, CA
14 answers

Hi, It's E. again. This Thursday I will begin my round of I.V.F. treatments, and I am wondering about what to expect as a result of Clomid/other medications?

I've read about the possible emotional rollercoaster, weight gain, sleeplessness et al. What is really curious to me is how many of you who ingested these medications actually experienced said side effects? Or any others?

During this journey it is very important to me that I feel prepared so I'm not surprised with feelings that may manifest into behaviors that could adversly effect the loving relationship I have now.

Any advise? Please.........May I thank you all who have provided support thus far in this experience.

Have A GREAT WEEKEND! E.

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J.R.

answers from Los Angeles on

Hi E. - First, good luck to you in your journey! I did 9 cycles....we have a 4.5 year old daughter from cycle #7 and I just had b/g twins two weeks ago from cycle #9. I was 46 when I delivered my daughter and had just turned 51 when I had the twins.

I never took Clomid, as that seems to be used mainly for IU cycles. As far as side effects, the Lupron does make you have hot flashes. The dexamethasone made me sleepless, so I just took it in the morning instead of at night. The injections themselves can cause a lot of lumps, numbness and pain at the injection sites. I did gain some weight, but I think a lot of that had to do with not exercising while waiting after the embryo transfer and during other times. I have to say, by two weeks after the twins, I was down to below my pre-pregnancy weight...and haven't been there for quite a few years.

Mainly, I found the emotional aspect harder than the physical. (Neck and neck with the financial aspect!). It's just so hard to keep going through the process, enduring the physical pain, watching others announce their simply and normally conceived pregnancies (you can actually get pregnant by having sex??? - LOL!)...and at 6 weeks, to boot. Fertility treatments have forever shaped who I am. I hope you are one of the lucky few who finds success on your first cycle. It took us 17 years to finally become parents and I would not wish our journey on anyone.

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R.F.

answers from Los Angeles on

Hi E.,

Sorry I didn't get to this until today...I took Clomid...did two rounds.

I experienced the side effects they talk about...very emotional, agitated...to the point where I told my doctor I didn't want to do a third round.

Let me qualify, though,...I am VERY sensitive to all medications and I am a very emotional person. Even with PMS I cry EVERY month...always have...and I am also 46 years old.

I was 42 when I took the Clomid...

My "infertility" journey was this:

We started trying to get pregnant when I was 39. Nothing for 2 1/2 years. Drank the Red Raspberry leaf tea, took pre-natal vitamins...nothing happened. Tried the Clomid for the two months...nothing happened. Had a test done to see if my tubes were clear...they put a very small camera in there to see it is clear. The OB/GYN administering the test remarked how small the opening at my cervyx was but said the tubes were clear.

My own OB/GYN told me after I had the test that the tubes were clear and said he would refer me to an infertility specialist. He also said to wait at least a month because the test I had acts like a "roto rooter" and that I might get pregnant on my own.

3 weeks after meeting with my OB/GYN I received the referal to the infertility doctor in the late-afternoon mail. The next morning I took a pregnancy test and it was postitive.

My son is now 3 years old...perfectly healthy.

I wish you all the best and will pray for you.

Blessings,
R.

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M.R.

answers from Los Angeles on

I have had two successful rounds of IVF (and one unsuccessful frozen cycle). The only side effect I ever experienced was the weight gain (about 10 lbs. each time). I always warned my husband that 'Crazy M.' might make an appearance, but it never really happened. I should say, though, that I don't generally experience any mood swings due to PMS or otherwise, so maybe I was just not as susceptable.

Good luck!

-M.

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K.R.

answers from San Diego on

On Clomid I felt lethargic and occasionally had an unhappy tummy, but nothing serious...for about a week. good luck!

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V.B.

answers from Los Angeles on

I'm about to start my fourth IVF, so by now I'm up to the REALLY heavy drugs! Clomid -- and the injectables I'm on now -- haven't really affected me emotionally but they do for some people. You might start to feel full, bloated if you have a lot of follicles. Good luck!

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N.W.

answers from Los Angeles on

Good Morning E.,

I haven't had IVF. But, I wanted to respond to you about Great Health. You are preparing to get pregnant, what a wonderful time! I'm planning in a few years myself.

2 books you may want to pick up from Amazon.com:

1. Prescription for Nutritional Healing by Balch

2. Say Goodbye to Illness by Dr. Devi Nambudripad

Many times we don't think that 1. Allergies and 2. Deficiencies may be the cause of the problem that we are trying to treat through Western Medicine. Western Medicine always treats the immediate problem instead of going deeper.

You ended up at having to go through IVF treatments but why? Could it be that your system is out of balance because of allergies or deficiencies or both? That could be it.

After reading Say Goodbye to Illness by Dr. Nambudripad, I could see why women may have problems getting pregnant. If your body is out of balance because of undetected food allergies, your body will not give you want you wnat. Simple! Not complicated.

NAET.com is a group of allergists around the world who eliminate allergies. As far as I know, they are the only ones. You may want to log onto NAET.com and locate an allergist in your area, just to be tested for food allergies. I have been going to a NAET allergist for a few months to treat my allergies and I did find out with my allergist that my hormones were off. After jut a few months, I have lost 20 pounds and my body is normalizing.

If you have any questions about NAET, I can answer them [email protected]____.com Well.

N.

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C.C.

answers from Austin on

Hi E.,
I've been through the process partially twice (right before retrieval) and did have some slight discomfort, but not a lot of the emotional roller coaster probably because we did not get to pregnancy. However, you may feel very bloated right before retrieval as your ovaries are full of mature eggs. I believe the roller coaster comes in after you get pregnant (after implantation). At this time you will have your own hormones to deal with, a little embryo adding more stress on your body, not to mention all the drugs to help your body maintain the proper state to keep the baby. Hope this helps. If it is any consolation, every woman experiences some emotional bursts in the first trimester as her body adjusts to the many hormone changes and the growing live inside of her. This experience is not limited to IVF patients. :)

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C.J.

answers from Los Angeles on

Hi E.,
I didn't make it all the way to IVF but did the Clomid. I had an ok time the first month but the second month I was on a horrible emotional roller coaster and had incredible anxiety. I was told this wasn't normal and probably wasn't the Clomid but the meds were the only different thing I was doing at the time. Everyone is different and I have a very sensitive system that always reacts to any kind of drug stronger than aspirin. Best of luck to you!

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K.M.

answers from San Diego on

They never gave me clomid - we went right to invitro at 43 years old. I highly, highly recommend you research accupuncture, not only for during the fertility treatments but also when you get to embryo transfer. Find someone who specializes in fertility (some insurance companies pay for it for fertility). The improved odds are really impressive. I did this myself (thinking I was a nut, but trying everything that I could to tip odds in my favor)

As was mentioned before - just going thru fertility, hormones or not, is a really difficult emotional experience. So ask your husband for extra kindness and grace when he thinks you may being dramatic or sensitive.

Every body is different, so it's anyone's guess how yours will react to the hormones. I did not have much of a roller coaster ride from the hormones. The last week before they harvested my eggs, I definitely bloated and got morning sickness from the last cocktails of shots. And it is pretty freaky/surreal to give yourself shots - I cried over that the first few nites. Then you almost become a pro!

I've heard people gain weight - I did not the first round. The 2nd round we got really, really lucky - they only harvested 1 egg successfully and that egg was fertilized and became the embryo that miraculously resulted in a successful pregnancy. I gained 10 lbs the first 10 weeks and figured I would be gaining a lot of weight given most people gain 3 lbs, if anything. As soon as they took me off of the hormones at 12 weeks, my own hormones kicked in and I had food repulsion vs cravings - so I had to focus on eating really healthy, high nutrition value foods as I could barely stand to eat. My friend (who did 6 rounds) gained a lot, but lost it very quickly after she had her child.

It was tough (crushing)for me the first time we went thru and it didn't work and everyone wanted to hear if I was pregnant. So the next time I only shared it with a few really dear friends. But I also had a friend who went thru it many times and I was able to call and say "can you believe they want me to do this???" and it was nice to talk to someone who had been thru the struggle who really understood the entire emotional, physical and psychological experience that I was facing.

Oh, by the 2nd round, I was already tired of hearing about other peoples successful invitro experiences, because I was fearful/sad I wouldn't be a success story.

Last thought - the other thing they'll say a lot is that stress can hamper fertility - so don't stress about it. That is like telling an insomniac to "just go to sleep"! I don't know anyone who has gone thru fertility that isn't stressed about it - for a whole variety of reasons. The point is, please do things that make you happy and calm you down while you are going thru this - spend time with the people who really love you and you feel good being around. (I think relaxation/calming may be part of the acupuncture success improvement)

I hope this is helpful to you. God bless you and yours on this journey.

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L.E.

answers from Los Angeles on

Hi, E.,

I have been through many rounds of fertility treatment, including IVF, but I have never taken Clomid, so I can't comment on any side effects of that drug. The only drugs that seemed to affect me physically even at the maximum allowable dosage were Prednisone, which I think helped make me fat and possibly made me experience insomnia, which I had virtually never experienced before, during my first full-term pregnancy, and heparin, which made my blood quite thin and made me bruise very easily. The progesterone shot was not nearly as painful as I originally feared. (My husband probably suffered more by injecting me than I did receiving that shot.) In my case, the emotional impact of fertility treatment and two miscarriages was much greater than the physical impact.

I've found that doing nothing other than mindful breathing a few minutes before I injected myself helped make the process easier. The times I tried to inject myself while in a hurry or tired were the times I tended to make worrisome mistakes (did I overdose? did I inject the medication?) It pays to pay attention but not think about the potential outcome. I was calmest when, while injecting myself, I thought of injecting a good friend. (I wouldn't want to hurt a friend but I wouldn't be as invested in the outcome of a friend's treatment as the outcome of my own treatment.) I felt best when I stayed as objective as possible about this potentially very emotional subject.

If you want to talk to someone who understands this process, esp. the emotional aspects of this process and if you haven't joined a Resolve group, you might want to join one. You would probably also enjoy reading Dr. Jaffe and Drs. Diamonds' book Unsung Lullabies. After I start offering psychotherapy, I will recommend this book to my clients who are affected by infertility.

By the way, sometimes funny things happen as a result of fertility treatment. I recall trying to inject my abdomen in the restroom of the Queen Mary at my husband's high school reunion with women talking about their kids and asking me to pass them toilet paper under the stall walls. I thought, 'This isn't anything like what I saw in the training videos!' A co-worker (teacher) once walked into my classroom while I was injecting myself and my pants were partly unzipped. (Class was NOT in session, and the door had been locked, but my co-worker unlocked the door without knocking!) The odd thing was that after seeing me in this condition, he didn't immediately choose to leave!

You will probably become a more resourceful person by going through this. I have. I've injected myself in restaurant restrooms with gawking onlookers and bunks of (music) tour buses with a Coke can to numb my abdomen.

Good luck!

Sincerely,
Lynne E

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S.P.

answers from Los Angeles on

E.,
Good luck! We did Clomid unsuccessfully for 3 months and all I felt were intense hot flashes, which mostly made me laugh because it was incredibly strange. We were finally successful with Artificial Insemination coupled with daily shots (woohoo shots! Wait, not those kind) which I made hubby stick me with in my belly, & pills & post insemination pills I actually had to insert into my vagina (so strange?). Throughout the entire process I really just tried my best to maintain a positive attitude and my doctor also told me how important that was. It's hard not to feel beat down by years of unsuccessful attempts and the heartbreak associated with 'trying'. (Not to mention stupid people who have no comprehension of what you're going through but feel the need to say silly things.) I also tried hard to ignore things I'd read about the drugs I was taking and just let the experience unfold for me. You are unique and may not experience any of the side effects anyone else has had, the best thing you can do for yourself is attempt to stay relaxed. So, nothing profound but I now (5 years after first trying) have 20 month old b/g twins. I wish you the best of luck and patience with your adventure.

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C.W.

answers from Los Angeles on

First of all, congratulations on working up to the point you are at. I know it is a hard road to travel. When I was on IVF meds, the "roller coaster" of emotions wasn't too much more than PMS symptoms. The trick was to continue to do the things that kept me busy and my mind occupied. I continued to exercise, which helped a lot. Everyone responds differently. As for weight gain, I think the longer you are on the meds (years...), the more likely you MAY be (not will be). I didn't really gain anything. Maybe a pound or so. Good luck! :)

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A.C.

answers from Los Angeles on

do Acupuncture!!! it is a life saver. It helps you relax and not to stress soooo much. I didn't do it the first time I did IVF but I did for the second and what a difference. I even got prego!!!!!!!! It helps reduce the stress hormone and boost circulation to all the right areas.

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K.P.

answers from Las Vegas on

In the beginning we were scared about the shots and by the end I felt like a pin cushion. In between it became routine. I am a whimp and always iced up before EVERY shot. After the transfer and you start taking progesterone, apply heat and massage the area for about 10 minutes after the show to avoid waking up the nexT day thinking someone kicked you:)

I didn't experience weight gain, but I was tired and felt kind of bloated. I was lucky and it worked on my first try. It took my cousin 3 tries, but she is now 22 weeks pregnant.
Don't be afraid to tell people what you are going through when they want you to be somewhere during your ahot time. I was amazed at the number of people I knew who had used IVF - your personal support group is super important! Best wishes to you!!!
K.

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