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.

1

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 healthcare provider before incorporating a numbing cream into your routine.

2

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.

3

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.

4

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.

5

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 healthcare provider'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.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How do your reduce pain before an injection?

    You can numb the injection site with an ice pack or cold compress for several minutes before getting or giving an injection. Ice the site for no longer than 10 minutes, moving the pack constantly, to avoid frostbite. There are also over-the-counter numbing creams made with lidocaine that may help.

  • How do you give an injection without pain?

    There are some tips that can make giving an injection less painful:

    • Allow the medicine to come to room temperature if possible (but do not heat it).
    • Always use a new needle. (Used ones are not only unsterile but can be blunt.)
    • Position the needle at 90 degrees to the injection site.
    • Stick the needle in quickly.
  • How do you relieve pain after an injection?

    You can relieve pain after an injection by applying a cold compress to the injection site. If the injection is in the arm or leg, keep it moving throughout the day. If the pain is significant, you can take an over-the-counter pain killer like Tylenol (acetaminophen).

  • How do you make a subcutaneous injection less painful?

    To make a subcutaneous injection less painful, find an area of skin that is more fatty, like the abdomen. Pinch the skin, and stick in the needle quickly. If you have low body fat and your abdomen is lean, you can try the thigh instead.

  • How do you make an intramuscular injection less painful?

    Avoid tensing up when receiving an intramuscular injection. Instead, find a position in which the muscle is relaxed. For example:

    • If injecting the buttocks, lie on your side or face down.
    • If injecting the thigh, recline back with the leg extended.
    • If injecting the shoulder, let the arm hang loosely to the side.
  • When do I call a healthcare provider about injection pain?

    An injection can lead to an infection due to contaminated medicines, an unsterile needle or syringe, or not cleaning the skin properly with alcohol. Allergic reactions are also a concern. Call a healthcare provider immediately if you experience:

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6 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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