There are basically 2 types of injections: intramuscular (IM); and subcutaneous (SC).
Self-administered injections can be intimidating–it's a good idea to practice on an orange to build confidence. You could also request a nurse to supervise you the first time to give yourself a shot.
Tips for Self-Administered Injections
Find a clean, quiet and comfortable place where you will not be disturbed. Many women find their bathroom or kitchen to be a good spot. Clean a place on the countertop so that you can lay your supplies down. Wash your hands well and dry them thoroughly.
Gather your supplies. This includes your medications , syringes, needles for mixing drugs (usually bigger) and needles for injecting the drugs (usually smaller), alcohol swabs and sharps container. If you are injecting more than one drug (for example both Buserelin and Menogon ) you will want to separate the equipment for one drug from the equipment for the other.
Subcutaneous injections are usually painless or cause only slight discomfort, and you can give them in either the stomach or thigh.
- Before giving the injection, clean the skin with rubbing alcohol and let it air-dry.
Pinch the skin between your thumb and index finger.
- Hold the syringe, cartridge or pen at a 90-degree angle and insert the needle with a swift push.
- If you are using a syringe, you should pull back slightly on the plunger — after the initial prick — to ensure you have not entered the skin near a blood vessel. If blood appears in the syringe, simply withdraw the needle, put a new needle on and pick a different site on the skin. This step is not performed with the pen injection systems.
- After you have injected all the medication, withdraw the needle and apply moderate pressure to the site for a few minutes. It's normal to see a spot of blood or liquid at the site.
- Dispose of used needles and store the medications away from heat and sunlight as directed.
Intramuscular injections are administered with longer needles than those used in subcutaneous injections. So, these will hurt a little bit. Intramuscular injections are usually given in the upper quadrant of the buttock, so it is preferred to have someone else give you the injection to ensure it hits the proper location. Fertility centers often offer classes on this; encourage your partner to attend with you in order to learn how to give the medication.
- You may want to lie down or bend over the back of a chair to loosen the muscles in the buttock area. Rubbing an ice cube on the area for a couple of minutes before the injection should decrease the discomfort of the shot.
- To get the needle into the muscle, have your partner use his thumb and index finger to spread the skin and flatten out the muscle between his fingers. Then insert the needle with a quick thrusting motion. Hold the syringe with one hand; with the other hand, pull back gently on the plunger to make sure no blood appears in the syringe. If it does, withdraw the needle, replace it with a clean one and use another site.
- After an intramuscular injection such as progesterone in oil — a very thick medication — it is helpful to the rub the injection site and apply heat to the area in order to make sure that the medication is absorbed into the muscle.
- It is helpful to alternate the injection site from one buttock to the other every day; injecting the same spot every time could cause sore spots or lumps under the skin.