By Joel Krasnow, M.D.

This article series is meant to provide information so that you can become more familiar with the various treatment options. This article will address the use of self-injected fertility medications used in assisted reproductive technologies (ART).

Giving Yourself a Shot

The decision to participate in infertility treatments such as ART brings with it some responsibilities. One of the responsibilities for a patient undergoing ART is likely to include daily, self-administration (giving yourself a shot) of a recombinant follicle stimulating hormone (rFSH), either Organons Follistim® (follitropin beta for injection) or one of the other FSH products available.

If the medication is to be injected under the skin (administered subcutaneously), you will be able to give yourself the shot. If the medication is to be injected into the muscle (administered intramuscularly or IM), it is usually injected into the buttocks by another individual.

Detailed instructions and support will be provided by your doctor and medical staff. The goal is to make you as comfortable as possible with this procedure.

How can these injections be made as easy as possible?

rFSH medication comes packaged in two forms: ampule and vial. Both ampule and vial deliver the proper dose of medication, but require different techniques to use.

The Ampule Package

An ampule is a glass container shaped with a bubble near the top. To access the medication inside, you first wrap a piece of gauze around the top of the ampule. Then, with fingers of one hand grasping the gauze-wrapped top, and fingers of the other hand grasping the ampule bottom, you snap off the top.

An ampule is a functional package, but caution must be exercised during handling. When snapping off the top of the ampule, you are, in effect, breaking a glass object. Potential exists for tiny glass shards to fall into the medication, on to surrounding areas or to cut your fingers as you handle and dispose of the ampule.

The Vial Package

A vial is a glass bottle with a rubber stopper on top. You withdraw the liquid diluent and reconstituted medication by inserting the needle through the stopper and pulling back on the plunger of the syringe.

Vials generally received mixed reviews when they were introduced in the early 1960s, because the rubber stoppers sometimes leaked. However, newer, better-designed vials have solved this problem, and now they are generally considered to be much simpler to use than ampules. For this reason, vials continue to grow in popularity. For ease and safety, doctors and patients show an overwhelming preference for this improved form of medication delivery, which is why Organon chose this form of packaging for Follistim® (follitropin beta for injection).

No Matter Which Packaging You Choose

Always remember to first work with your doctor in finding the ART solution that best suits your situation. The correct medication is obviously more important than the package it comes in, but if you have a choice between ampule and vial packaging, you may find the vial easier and safer for daily use.