How to Administer a Subcutaneous Injection

Women with PCOS often need medical help to get pregnant, and many of these fertility treatments can involve hormone injections to stimulate egg production and ovulation. If your healthcare provider has prescribed a fertility drug such as Follistim, Gonal-F, Repronex, Bravelle or Menopur, which are delivered subcutaneously, you will need to learn how to give yourself an injection. It may sound scary or intimidating to give yourself a shot, but it isn't difficult. Once you do it a few times, you should see there really isn't much to it.

Woman giving herself an injection
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About Subcutaneous Injections

Subcutaneous, or SubQ injections, are given into the fatty tissue just below the skin. The lower abdomen, about an inch away from the belly button, is usually the preferred site, although they can be administered into any area with fatty tissue, such as the front, middle portion of the thigh as well.

You will want to rotate the area where you give the shot, as repeated injections in the same area can cause irritation of the tissue and may lead to pain upon injection.

These days, most injectable medications are available in a prefilled pen, which is less complicated than a syringe and vial. With most pens, you should use a new needle for each injection and prime it according to the manufacturer's directions.

How to Give a Subcutaneous Injection

Whether you are using a pen or a syringe, the act of injecting is the same. Here's what you need to do to give yourself a subcutaneous injection:

  1. Gather your supplies. You will need an alcohol pad, a bandage, gauze or tissue, and your prepared or mixed medication in a pen or vial and syringe.
  2. Wash your hands.
  3. Select your site and clean it using the alcohol pad.
  4. Draw up your correct dose, either in the prefilled pen or syringe.
  5. Take a large pinch of skin to pull the fatty tissue away from the muscle underneath it.
  6. Holding the pen or syringe like a dart, quickly insert the needle at a 90-degree angle to the skin.
  7. Slowly inject the medication.
  8. Release the pinch of skin, then withdraw the needle.
  9. Apply bandage, gauze or tissue as necessary.


As always, practice makes perfect. But here are some tips to make that practice just a little easier:

  • Make sure to change your site each time you give the injection. Move from thigh to thigh or change locations on the abdomen. Rotating the injection site can help to prevent injury, pain or bruising.
  • If you are nervous about the pain of needle insertion, you can numb the area with a little ice prior to cleaning it.
  • You may notice a little bead of medication or a drop of blood on your skin after the injection. This is normal.
  • Insert the needle quickly. If you go too slowly, the injection will be more painful.
  • If you have any questions, do not hesitate to ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist.
2 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Jin P, Xie Y. Treatment strategies for women with polycystic ovary syndrome. Gynecol Endocrinol. 2018;34(4):272-277. doi:10.1080/09513590.2017.1395841

  2. Annersten M, Willman A. Performing subcutaneous injections: a literature review. Worldviews Evid Based Nurs. 2005;2(3):122-30. doi:10.1111/j.1741-6787.2005.00030.x

By Nicole Galan, RN
Nicole Galan, RN, is a registered nurse and the author of "The Everything Fertility Book."