Fertility

IVF Brain Fog? What it is and what you can do about it

Holly Pigache  |   10 Dec 2021


We’ve all heard of “baby brain” or “pregnancy brain” but what about “IVF brain”?  Is that a thing?  What does it mean?  And how can I stop it from happening?

At TRB, we all know that injecting IVF stimulation hormones each day (and up to twice a day) wreaks havoc on our bodies. We experience IVF bloating, IVF constipation, IVF gas, bruising from injections, mood swings, raging emotions – and to top it all off, we’re forgetting things…

When you’re trying to keep track of when to inject, which hormones you might need to take with you out to dinner and of course to say “no thank you” when offered a glass of wine, the last thing you need is to start losing track of what’s what. 

But that’s exactly what happened to me – and many women talk of experiencing a “brain fog” during IVF, too.

Let me start by saying I’m a very organised person.  In fact, friends and family consider me to be anally organised so I felt confident (perhaps read: cocky) when I first spoke to the nurses at the fertility clinic about what drugs to take and when.  With the upcoming weeks perfectly organised (a few social occasions cancelled so I wouldn’t be tempted to have a small glass of wine – I know, sorry), I was prepped and ready to jab, jab, jab.

Until, of course, I found the hormones affected my brain.

One evening over the summer, I drove back to my parents’ house an hour away, feeling assured I had packed everything I needed for the next few days – including my IVF meds.  On returning home in the evening, I couldn’t find the fyremadel for the next morning.  Irritated with myself, I hop in the car and drive an hour back home.  Fyremadel needle collected, I wearily trudge back to the car. 

Why didn’t I stay at home?  Because I had a 7:45 AM clinic appointment and no one wants an hour’s drive in rush hour on a Monday morning. 

And you’ll never guess what – actually, you probably will – I found another fyremadel needle in my handbag; it had been with me all the way to my parents’ house, all the way back home and all the way to my parents’ the second time. 

It’s easy to say this could have been avoided if I checked my bag properly when I arrived home but I felt like I did.  And that’s the problem with baby/pregnancy/IVF brain (perhaps even our newly felt “covid-brain” – the fog prevents you from seeing clearly.  It’s tiresome and frustrating.

Exhausted, even more annoyed at myself and eager to stop the IVF drugs, I went straight to bed.

Does IVF medication make you forgetful?

While there’s no hard evidence that IVF medication makes people forgetful, some of us are hit with mild to severe side effects – alongside brain fog, these can include fatigue, nausea and mood swings.

Side effects really should be temporary, although early pregnancy symptoms can be very similar, making it super-confusing during that two week wait period. If you’re at all worried by your side effects, do speak to your doctor right away.

IVF-Brain-Fog-What-it-is-and-what-you-can-do-about-it

So some advice – from someone meticulously organised who’s had IVF brain fog:

  • Try to limit the activities you do.  This sounds like it’ll only make you go stir-crazy but I mean for you to be kind to yourself.  Gallivanting around the country/state only increases the chances you’ll lose or forget something.
  • Make lists, write notes on your phone, send yourself voice notes or set alarms – whatever helps you remember things.
  • Keep your hormone injections in the same place in your house.
  • You’ll be told to take the shots at the same time each day, so make sure you do.
  • Remember, the hormone injections will stop, the fog will clear and you’ll eventually feel like yourself again.

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