Intramuscular Injections of Progesterone in Oil

As part of the process of in vitro fertilization (IVF), you may have to take daily progesterone injections to increase the odds of becoming pregnant.

This article explains why progesterone is important during pregnancy. It also offers tips on how to self-administer intramuscular injections of progesterone if your doctor has prescribed them.

Doctor comforting patient in office
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Purpose of Injection

Progesterone is a sex hormone that plays a key role in maintaining a healthy pregnancy. Self-administering progesterone during IVF helps your body prepare for a pregnancy.

It can be difficult to give yourself injections. However, knowing that you may be helping your chances of a healthy pregnancy should make the discomfort a little easier to tolerate. And remember, it’s only temporary.​​ 

Progesterone is usually compounded in sesame oil. If you have allergies to peanuts or sesame, make sure to mention it to your doctor. They may prescribe progesterone in olive oil instead.​

Performing the Injection

If you are currently self-administering progesterone injections and finding it difficult, the following tips can help:

  • Keep the oil in a warm place, not in the refrigerator. Oil can become thicker when it's in a cold environment. This can make it more difficult to draw up or inject.
  • Before you inject yourself, change the needle after drawing the medication into the syringe. A sharp needle will make the injection a little less painful.
  • Once you've picked an injection site—for intramuscular injections this will most likely be your buttocks, arm, or thigh—use ice to numb your skin before cleaning it with alcohol.
  • Don't forget to rotate your injection sites. Never inject your medication into the same spot repeatedly. This can increase your chances of tissue damage.
  • Make sure you palpate (gently feel) your muscles before choosing a site. Sometimes progesterone in oil can accumulate in your muscle, causing little knots or bumps, known as panniculitis. Your injection should not go into one of these bumps and it should be at least an inch away from a knot to avoid pain and to help the absorption of progesterone.

If it's still difficult for you to inject yourself, ask a friend or family member for help. If that isn't an option, call your doctor's office and ask for a tutorial.

After the Injection

Once you've injected yourself, use heat or a heating pad to warm the injection site. Because the progesterone is contained in the oil, it can take a while to absorb into your muscles. The heat will warm and thin the oil, helping boost absorption.

You should also massage the area after the injection is complete. This can also help the progesterone get absorbed.

Summary

Progesterone is a hormone that is important for maintaining a healthy pregnancy. For this reason, women who are undergoing IVF are may have to give themselves progesterone injections. Self-administering shots can be difficult, but there are ways to make the process easier and less painful.

A Word From Verywell

If you are having a lot of difficulty tolerating giving yourself daily injections, or if you notice any side effects, ask your doctor about switching to a different type of progesterone. Progesterone also comes in gel, tablet, or suppository form. These are placed in the vagina and don't require an injection.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What are progesterone oil injections used for?

    Intramuscular progesterone oil injections (marketed under the brand name Gestone and others) can restore normal periods that have stopped for several months and treat abnormal uterine bleeding due to low hormones. They can also improve the odds of a pregnancy in women undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF) or intrauterine insemination (IUI).

  • How are progesterone oil injections given?

    Intramuscular progesterone oil is delivered by injection into a large muscle, usually the buttocks. It is typically self-administered. When used for IVF, the daily injections are started three to five days before the scheduled embryo transfer and continued until the ninth week of gestation.

  • What are the side effects of progesterone shots?

    Common side effects of intramuscular progesterone injections include injection site pain, headaches, acne, fatigue, breast tenderness, vaginal discharge, and depression.

  • What are the alternatives to progesterone shots?

    In addition to intramuscular injections, there are different methods of delivering progesterone for IVF. (Note: Not all are available in the United States.) These include Endometrin (a vaginal insert), Crinone (vaginal gel), Cyclogest and Milprosa (vaginal pessaries), and Utrogestan (oral capsules).

  • Are intramuscular progesterone injections the best option for IVF?

    Intramuscular progesterone appears to work as well for IVF as the other forms of progesterone. Each has its benefits and drawbacks. Speak with your healthcare provider about which form would be best for you.

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7 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.
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