Trip Report: Fertility Drugs

As part of freezing my eggs, I’ve been on an interesting set of hormones. This had some weird effects that seemed worth sharing. Obviously this is an n of one and any particular symptom could have some other cause, but it’s interesting nonetheless.

I was on a variety of hormones but the only one that seemed to change my mood was Menopur, so I’ll only report dosages of that.

Day 1 (4 Vials): 60 minutes after first shot my boyfriend says something that makes me a little sad. I am much sadder and weepier about a mildly sad thing than usual, and it feels similar to but not exactly like normal crying. After crying myself out about boyfriend’s thing, I want to watch a sad movie, a feeling I don’t think I’ve ever had before in my entire life. Dallas Buyers Club proves neither interesting nor sad enough and I quit with 20 minutes left to go (which, to be fair, is when a lot of the sad stuff happens). Boyfriend suggests anime can not be sad and I should stop looking at that part of Netflix. I suggest he has never seen Grave of the Fireflies but drop it there because I don’t want *that* sad.

That response was faster than expected (the doctor confirmed the hormones can work that fast), but otherwise pretty much the emotion I expected reproductive hormones to give me.

Day 2 (4 vials): I wait for the sad to kick in but get distracted talking to my roommate. 70-80 minutes after shot I feel super energized, like I’ve taken caffeine after being off it for a while.

Today I notice how relaxed my muscles are, especially my shoulders. Boyfriend describes me as consistently less cynical, more sincere, and more connected. I wonder how we are dating if cynicism is a negative for him.

Day 3 (4 vials): ~80 minutes after shot I feel really mellow and relaxed, like I’ve taken a small dose of CBD. I attempt to watch Billy Elliot, which Netflix describes as “a tearjerker” and “feel-good”, two sections I’ve never looked in before. I stop watching from boredom an hour in. Boyfriend talks me into watching This is Us, a show designed to make you cry. I enjoy it but don’t cry

Day 4 (4 vials): I feel sleepy an hour or two after the shot, but who knows what that means. I watch more This is Us and have many feelings about it.

Day 5 (3 vials): 6 hours before shot (so 18 hours after the last one) a close friend and I start discussing a point of repeated contention. I scream at him/the situation then cry while we discuss it. Friend is extremely happy to have my emotions closer to the surface and easier to access, and not at all upset about the screaming. We run out of time to finish the discussion and reschedule for Day 10 (which later gets bumped to Day 11).

Day 6 (3 vials): nothing particular happens. Muscles continue to be very relaxed. Test myself out with my friend’s toddler, perhaps have more attention span for his games but it’s a small difference at most.

Day 7 (2 vials): Attempt to watch Rocky 120 minutes after injection. Underdog pulls through is a thing I like normally but this particular one does nothing for me.

Day 8 (2 vials): Boyfriend pitches idea that we need to pull out the big guns, sad movie wise. He convinces me to watch Return to Me, a movie I assumed was from Hallmark but was in fact theatrically released and stars David Duchovny. Character’s death evokes no emotion from me, except when her widower shares his sadness with his dog.

Day 9 (2 vials): Try a horror movie. It fails to evoke a response, but to be fair it’s mostly an artsy allegory using horror movie tropes.

Day 10 (0 vials): muscles continue to be very relaxed.

Day 11: Wake up with tension back in shoulders and an feeling of cynicism suffused through me. Decide hormones have stopped working. Call friend from day 5. Instead of planned discussion we focus on what changed in me. I end up having a major insight and crying a lot. A few hours later I rehash the conversation with my boyfriend and have more insights and crying. Overall the problem seems to be severely constraining fear of disappointing people, which went away on the drugs because I felt secure in my relationships.

Day 12: Go under general anesthetic to have eggs removed. Spend the rest of the day groggy and uncomfortable.

Day 13: Someone makes a joke about my pain levels and I realize I can barely feel my trigeminal neuraglia, and maybe haven’t for a week.

Then I spent a few more days uncomfortable from my inflated ovaries, and the physical effects eased off.

Overall, the hormones seemed to make my emotions closer to the surface and gave me less room to intervene between feeling and action. Around people I was already close to, this translated to letting my guard down and being more authentic. This was in a positive feedback loop with the muscle tension, which was both a cause and consequence of social fear and insecurity. I’m assuming it was the reduced muscle tension that led to the improvement in neuralgia, although there exists a paper suggesting it could be more direct.

Being more in touch with my feelings, or having the memory of being so, also made it easier to advocate for myself/my POV.  I told Day 5 friend I thought someone he *really* looked up to was bullshit, and it did in fact upset him, but we worked through it and ended up in a better place than we started. I questioned another friend about whether a problem was as solved as he believed it to be

In the environment I was in, the emotional effects from the fertility hormones were net positive, to the point I’d take them again just for the experience and pain-relief if it were cheap and side-effect free. I worry what would have happened if I’d had a bad annual review while on them, or screamed at a friend who had screaming-related trauma instead of one who welcomed it as a sign of emotional intimacy. There are reasons I developed the ability to control my emotional expression.

This is speculative, but it wouldn’t surprise me if “same emotions more strongly felt” is a the common reaction to fertility and pregnancy hormones, and the reason we think they cause weepiness and rage and is that most people, especially people fighting infertility, have a lot of sadness and anger stored inside them. Egg freezing is fertility treatments on emotional easy mode, since you haven’t failed at anything yet, but I imagine if I’d been trying for years and failed to conceive, or faced multiple pregnancy losses, there would be a lot of feelings looking for an outlet.

 

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