How to Reduce Intramuscular and Subcutaneous Injection Pain

Let's face it: Nobody likes getting injections and doing it yourself can be even tougher. The fear of pain and the sight of a needle, no matter how big, can be intimidating for most people.

If you are undergoing treatment for infertility, you will likely have to give yourself daily injections. With some prior knowledge and practice, your daily injections can be made a lot easier. Here are five tips to reduce the pain associated with at-home fertility injections.


Numb the Area

Ice cubes

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If you are prone to bruising and pain, you can use ice or an ice pack to numb the injection site for several minutes prior to injecting yourself. Make sure to clean the area with an alcohol pad afterward. If you still experience significant pain, you may be able to use a numbing cream.

Some numbing creams are available over the counter, but make sure to check with your doctor before incorporating a numbing cream into your routine.


Position for Intramuscular Injections

woman holding a syringe

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Tensing up won't make injecting yourself easier, so position yourself in a way that reduces tension in your muscles. You may need to lie down or bend over a table, but a relaxed muscle will hurt a lot less than a tense one.

An intramuscular injection is given into the muscle below that fatty layer and can be a little trickier than other injection types. Palpate the muscle before doing the injection to make sure that the muscle can support the medication being delivered.

Four sites can be used to give an intramuscular injection. Choosing the proper site is necessary for proper absorption of the medicine and avoiding injury. Use a site on your body that has a large, easily markable muscle and has little fatty tissue covering it, like your buttocks, thigh, hip, or upper arm.

Rotate Sites

If you notice bruising or pain, rotate your injection site. One site may be easier than others, but rotating can help reduce any pain, tension, or frustration you may experience.


Subcutaneous Injection Sites

Woman injecting herself

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Subcutaneous means just below the skin, into the fatty tissue that lies between your skin and the muscle underneath. Choose a site that has a little extra fat. If your stomach is very lean, try injecting into your thighs. If your thighs are small, try giving the injection into your stomach.

Like with intramuscular injections, try rotating your injection site if you experience pain or bruising with repeat injections.


Keep the Goal in Mind

If your daily injections get difficult or tiresome, think about why you are taking the medication. If it is because you are trying to get pregnant or fight a disease, keeping your goal in mind may help ease any fear or anxiety you may be experiencing.

Remembering the reason can also help you keep any discomfort you may feel in perspective. Reassure yourself that fertility treatments are not forever.


Know When to Ask for Help

If you can't inject yourself or are having a difficult time with certain injection sites, have someone else, like your partner, administer the injection for you. If that's not possible, ask your doctor's office for a tutorial. Sitting down and working with a healthcare professional to show you the best way to inject yourself can make a big difference.

Sometimes, despite all of our efforts, self-injection is just not possible. Don’t beat yourself up about it; many people aren’t able to inject themselves.

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  2. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. What to expect—for adults. Updated January, 2018.

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  4. MedlinePlus. Subcutaneous (SQ) injections. Updated November, 2017.