IVF Blood Draws? Fiercely Fertile Has You CoveredMar 13, 2023
IVF Blood Draws? Fiercely Fertile Has You Covered
Words by Angela Shaba
IVF & Blood Draws
Whether you have gone through IVF before or are just starting the process, the odds are most of us know that the IVF process involves needles of some kind. Most people don’t know until they have gone through the process that IVF involves a lot of needles!
According to ASRM (2023), also known as the American Society for Assisted Reproductive Medicine, IVF is a form of “assisted reproduction” where you combine an egg and sperm in a lab. The process involves a female taking medicated injections to grow follicles in her ovaries, which would hopefully grow and produce eggs. A reproductive physician then extracts those eggs, and those eggs and sperm will develop into embryos. Those embryos will hopefully then be implanted back into the female for pregnancy.
So, what does all that have to do with a ton of needles? Through the IVF process, you will be taking hormone medication to stimulate your ovaries and produce multiple follicles to get the many eggs we all want. Most of the hormone medication will be in the form of injections. Injections to the stomach! Or the butt! But the latter is for another article!
Part of the IVF process is making sure that your hormone levels are where they need to be so that you are progressing nicely, meaning your follicles are responding to the medication and growing and that you don’t ovulate through the medication. This is why there are so many blood draws. The fertility clinic needs to ensure the medicine is doing what it is supposed to, and your body is on track to getting those healthy eggs ready for that egg retrieval. That is the most simplistic way to describe the process and why we are poked so many times!
For me, I always had a problem giving blood. I never enjoyed it either. But whenever I went to the doctor, I had a difficult time giving blood and the office had a difficult time getting blood from me. My veins are pretty small, and when they “peak out” and say hi, they like to run away from the needle or stop flowing all together. But when I started my fertility journey, I had no idea how many blood draws I would have to do. I can’t even count the amount of blood draws; it has to be somewhere in the thousands! But even more, what I wasn’t prepared for was how my veins would get tired from having blood drawn every day for months on end. And how much I needed to do to make that blood flow. Veins just are going to get tired. The clinic says it all the time. It is normal for your veins to stop working or start slowing down because they are just getting poked so frequently. I mean your whole body gets tired during this process why wouldn’t your veins! And if you have difficulty with your veins and blood draws initially, the IVF process can take an even more significant toll on your veins.
So why am I talking about this? Why is this even important enough to devote one blog post to blood draws? Why would you want to make this process easier for yourself? I mean aren’t we already stressed enough with IVF!
Blood draws during IVF are necessary and are inevitable. You can’t get around blood draws. And the veins need help. And more importantly, I want you not to worry about one more thing. If I can make your life during IVF easier than I will. If blood draws can be one thing you don’t have to stress over then your stress decreases more, your mindset can be more balanced, and you will support your fertility during this process. Constant stress during your IVF cycle can impact your mood, and your mindset can be affected, which can affect fertility and what you are trying to achieve. And honestly, why do you need to stress out about one more thing when there is so much already on your plate to handle? If you can take away even one small thing with IVF, it is one less thing to worry about, it can really help. This way, you can focus on the important things you need to focus on during this time.
Here are a few tips I learned along my fertility journey that might help you, fellow warrior. I hope you can use these tips so that you don’t have to deal with additional stress during your fertility journey and IVF cycle.
Tips for how to make this process easier...
Heat is your friend
Did you know that cold constricts blood vessels and blood flow? You want to make sure that you are warm, that your body is warm. The warmer you are, the more blood will likely flow more easily. I live in Phoenix. If you want to see how I dress for blood draws, check out a post I did on my Instagram page. I am not even joking. I would wear hats, gloves, scarves, and sweaters; it looked like I was going skiing! And then, when I got in my car, I would immediately turn on the heated seats, and the heat would be on 80 or 82 the entire drive to the clinic, which was a good 45 minutes. I would also wear a sweater like this one to keep warm and use while in the clinic. I even put warm packs on my forearms. They work! You can check out the ones I used here. It was ridiculous, yes, and very warm, yes! But I wanted to make sure I did whatever I could to ensure I would get a good blood flow. I also didn’t want to get stuck any more than I had to. Once you get stuck a few times and they can’t get blood from you, trust me, you will want to do whatever you can to minimize that again. So, stay really warm!
Drink your water
While in an IVF cycle, drinking your water is probably an understatement. Drinking a lot of water during your IVF cycle is important for many reasons. You want to stay hydrated for healthy blood flow, circulation, and overall goodness to your eggs. But when you are getting blood drawn almost every day, you need to stay hydrated so that blood will flow more easily during blood draws. I would drink 2-3 Hydro Flask water bottles before I would get to my appointment. I have a bunch of water bottles on my website if you want to check out which ones you like. They are all good. I like to use a water bottle like the ones I have on my website since I know exactly how much water I am actually drinking. If the water bottle says 24L, then I know I am drinking 24 liters of water, and I will know I need 5 or 6 of those water bottles a day to stay hydrated. Drinking water and staying hydrated helps with every part of the IVF process. It also helps with constipation and other side effects from the medication. Plus, it sets you up for all the water you will need to drink once you get to the other side of this process, transfer, and beyond!
Eat salty food
You want to eat something before you go to your blood draw. I usually had my appointments in the morning, so I ate an egg and avocado. I would also drink a cup of my homemade bone broth to keep me hydrated and warm. You can find all my homemade fertility recipes in my recipe book. I would add salt to my eggs and add salt to my cup of bone broth as salt helps absorb the water you are drinking. Plus, it just gives you more energy to face the appointment! Visit my website to sign up for some free recipes here!
IVF is stressful. Blood draws, ultrasound appointments, and medications every day. It's exhausting. Sometimes when you are in the blood draw chair, you have just had enough of it all and are so tired. It can become really overwhelming. It is super helpful to try some relaxation and breathing techniques. Breathing through the pain of the needle, the initial poke or the stress and emotional exhaustion that is coming up for you will help you relax and will help the process go more smoothly. I teach a really great, easy and effective breathing technique in my online course among a bunch of other really helpful fertility tips. Feel free to check my course out here!
I know IVF is overwhelming, challenging, and emotionally and physically draining. I know it took a lot out of me. Every day, I went to my appointments to check if any of my not many follicles were growing, and I kept my mindset strong through the process. I kept myself grounded and focused by using effective mental skills I have taught athletes for years on myself. I teach these skills in my online course so you can feel more supported, feel more in control, and have a stronger fertility mindset while going through this difficult process. With the exhaustion that comes with all this emotional pain, I wanted to succeed at something. So I set my sites on that blood draw each day. If I could control the amount of water I drank and maybe let the blood draw be less painful and a little easier on my body, I felt like I got a little win for the day. And with IVF, it's those little wins that count the most!
Going through an IVF Cycle? You don't have to do it alone. I can help support you. Check out my online course, Optimizing your Fertility and IVF Cycle. I will run this IVF marathon with you! And remember to follow my Instagram page for more helpful tips!
Stay Fierce. Stay Fiercely Fertile
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