My Personal Experiences

Difficulties Having Blood Drawn

Originally published on 15th June 2016
Last updated on 12th July 2024

For as long as I can remember, it’s never been easy to draw my blood for tests. It can take as many as ten attempts, where I’m left very sore and bruised afterwards!

What Does This Look Like?

My veins always seem to hide away and I’ve been told I have ‘tiny veins’ and ‘veins that collapse easy’. As a result, nurses always use a butterfly needle. I’ve had blood taken from the back of my hand when they couldn’t get a drop from my arm.

It has not been uncommon for me to leave a blood test with a plaster (band aid) on both arms and a lot of bruising.

Sometimes the nurse fetches another nurse to have because the struggle to obtain my blood has been so tricky.

I’ve been told that the nurse shouldn’t persist past three attempts, but as it’s not unusual to take five attempts before we get a little dribble of blood, I put up with it so I can at least have the blood drawn. I’ve also been told that once the needle is in, it shouldn’t be moved around, but this happens too. Blood tests aren’t usually quick for me!

Is There a Thyroid Link?

I have wondered if there’s a link between thyroid problems and poor circulation possibly causing these issues, and I asked in my Facebook group whether others have the same problem. There was a resounding ‘yes’ from many people, so I did some researching online, but nothing obvious is known yet.

What Helps With Blood Draws?

  1. Always drink plenty of water in the hours leading up to your blood test.
  2. Go for a walk on your way to the test to get your blood pumping and body warmed up.
  3. Hold a ball in your hand that you can squeeze.
  4. Ask for a small or ‘butterfly’ needle.

Some have said that it depends entirely on the nurse and how good they are at finding my veins, however, it has gotten a lot better over the last year to get my blood and I now can’t remember the last time the nurse struggled to draw any. I’ve gone from it taking five attempts to them getting it on the first try every time now. And that’s hugely appreciated!

You may also consider finger prick blood tests, which I use fairly often myself.

Medichecks Blood Test

For the UK: Medichecks 

Medichecks is a very popular finger prick blood test option in the UK.

You can order a full thyroid function test and complete it at home with a simple finger prick sample.

Results are then securely emailed to you with commentary from their in-house doctors.

My followers can also use the discount code INVISIBLE10 for 10% off Medichecks tests.

Medichecks Thyroid Test

US: LetsGetChecked

LetsGetChecked is a very popular finger prick blood test option in the US.

You can order thyroid testing and complete it at home with a simple finger prick sample.

LetsGetChecked offer a one-on-one test results review with their dedicated team of doctors and nurses which are available 24/7 and will call you to explain your results.

My followers can also use the discount code 25INVISIBLE for 25% off their tests.

A longer list of places (sorted by country) to order your own tests online can be seen here.

Do you experience the same struggle with having blood drawn?

About Author

Rachel Hill is the highly ranked and multi-award winning thyroid patient advocate, writer, speaker and author behind The Invisible Hypothyroidism. Her thyroid advocacy work includes writing articles, authoring books, producing her Thyroid Family email newsletters and speaking on podcasts and at events about the many aspects thyroid disease affects and how to overcome these. She is well-recognised as a crucial and influential contributor to the thyroid community and has a large social media presence. Her bestselling books include "Be Your Own Thyroid Advocate" and "You, Me and Hypothyroidism".


  • Jacqueline
    April 17, 2023 at 4:45 pm

    Thank you so much for this article!!! For the longest time, I have found it diffiicult for bloodwork. I have asked for a smaller needle, sometimes it doesn’t help, sometimes it does. It also depends on who is handling it. I had a blood draw in January, and nearly fainted because they moved a needle around trying to find a vein. My last blood draw wasn’t so bad, hyrdrating helped, and also how it’s handled helps too. What i don’t think really helps though is that one needs to wear a mask still, and i’ve explained to my doctors that i have felt faint more so because of that. I am also really sore afterwards, some blood draws,my arm hurts for a week! i would love to know if there is a link as well!

  • Caz / InvisiblyMe
    June 10, 2019 at 3:18 pm

    Aww I empathise as I’ve been used like a pin cushion way too many times. They always use a smaller butterfly needle, and on odd occasions they can get it first time, but it’s rare. If it’s very hot weather (where everyone’s melting & I’m just reaching luke warm!) my veins are better. It can be pretty miserable. I’m not sure about the link between problems with blood draws & thyroid problems, or other health issues, but it’s made me wonder..x

  • Kathryn Lantz
    June 7, 2019 at 12:29 am

    I so agree with you! I just had my blood taken last week and the first nurse couldn’t get it even with the butterfly. They had a different nurse use a big needle in the other arm near the middle between my wrist and the crook of my elbow. They dig around and now I have a huge bruise that is still sore! I have had hypothyroidism for over 40 years and it is never easy!

  • Clare Vollans
    October 1, 2018 at 1:51 pm

    Always had this problem too… I have UAT DA01 DAO2 and MTHFR genetic issues… it’s so annoying!

  • Laura
    August 9, 2018 at 10:03 am

    I have also always had issues, my dad as well and be are both hypothyroid. I have found that drinking quite a lot of coconut water the day before along with regular water has helped. I also do jumping jacks or something to get the blood moving right before, I always lie down and usually take in a blanket to cover with do I stay warm during the draw (since the table is usually cold). When I start a year and a half ago with my functional doc and was getting major blood draws every 3 months and often one small draw in between, it was almost always a struggle and if they were able to get a vein it would often stop running and not provide enough blood for all the tests. The odd thing is now that my thyroid numbers have stabilized for the first time as well as most of my other lab work, as log as I hydrate, exercise and stay warm the draws have been much better! I remember when I had my wisdom teeth pulled in college I was supposed to be put to sleep but they couldn’t get a vein at all so I had to be awake for the procedure ? and then I had to have surgery a few years later and they couldn’t get an IV in for anything and had to numb my wrist (yeah it didn’t really numb much) and punch through cartilage in my wrist to get it in… Not fun! Of course in both those instances I couldn’t have any liquids prior which makes it absolutely awful. I’d love to know if there is a scientific link because most of the people I know with thyroid issues also have trouble with blood draws.

  • Jeanne Fischer
    June 15, 2016 at 7:55 pm

    yes I have the same problem. They usually take mine from the back of my hand. A couple of tricks is to drink lots of water the day before and at least two to three hours before the blood draw. Also if you are feeling chilled that makes the veins shrink back into your arm – keep warm. Make sure they use a fine needle. The clinic I used to go had the best people they could draw blood from my the arm the first time but my new clinic won’t even try my arm they go for my hand. If you vessels on your hand are plumped up the draw does not hurt. What I do is slap my hand a few times that usually helps plump them up then there’s no pain

    • invisiblehypothyroidism
      June 15, 2016 at 8:45 pm

      Thank you for your response 🙂 unfortunately I have tried all these and to no avail. Drinking lots of water doesn’t work for me (I already drink 2.5 litres a day), nor does keeping warm or a brisk walk – I walk 20 minutes to the doctors and am always hot on arrival. Butterfly needle doesn’t work/help also.

      I refuse my hand to be used as when I had to have it done in hospital I was screaming in pain. I guess I could try it again but it really was so traumatic that I’d rather they just bruise my arm up! It takes many attempts to get the blood from my arm, but it doesn’t hurt as they do it. It’s about half an hour later that it swells and bruises like in the photo above, and I prefer this to the horrific pain I had when they used my hand and wrist before.

      I just wish it was as simple as ‘normal’ people!


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