How to Choose an Intramuscular Injection Site

Choosing a good site to administer your injection is the key to success

Administering an injection
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If you're using assisted fertility treatments to try and conceive, chances are you will have to inject yourself with medicine, typically hormones. While the thought of giving yourself a shot may seem terrifying or painful, with some preparation, practice, and a few deep breaths, it can be a relatively quick and painless process. 

Fertility treatments must be given as intramuscular ​injections––an injection in the muscle below that fatty layer, which can be a little trickier than other injection types.

There are four sites you can use to give yourself or receive an intramuscular injection in. Choosing the proper site is necessary to ensure proper absorption and avoid injury. Use a site on your body that has a large, easily markable muscle and little fatty tissue covering it, like your buttocks, thigh, hip, or upper arm.

Make sure to palpate the muscle before giving yourself an injection to make sure your muscle can support the medication being delivered. As always, if your healthcare provider recommends a particular muscle or site, use that site.

Upper Arm (Deltoid Muscle)

Your deltoid muscle is located in your upper arm, just below your shoulder. To mark this site, place the palm of your hand on your shoulder and spread your thumb apart from your other fingers to form an upside down V shape. Make sure that the middle of your arm is centered in your V. You will want to inject yourself in the middle of the V.

Thigh (Vastus Lateralis Muscle)

Your vastus lateralis muscle is located in your thigh. To properly mark this muscle, divide the front of your thigh into thirds from the top to the bottom of the thigh. The needle should go into the middle third.

Hip (Ventrogluteal Muscle)

Your ventrogluteal muscle is located near your hip.

For injections in this site, you'll need a friend or partner to do the injection for you. To mark this site, lie on your back and have your partner stand to face your hips. Have him place the heel of his hand so that his wrist is lined up with your thigh; his thumb should be pointed toward your groin and fingers pointed toward your head. He should feel the border of a bony area along with his ring finger and pinkie, after which he should spread his pointer finger and middle finger into a V and give the injection between those fingers.

Buttocks (Dorsogluteal Muscle)

The dorsogluteal muscle is the large muscle located in your buttocks. This injection site should also be accessed with the help of a partner. Divide one butt cheek into quadrants, halfway down the middle and halfway across. You will always want to give the injection in the outer, upper quadrant, almost toward the hip.

In addition to choosing the proper intramuscular injection site, ice can be used to reduce pain. Larger needle, both in size and thickness, will be needed to penetrate deeper into your muscles. Try to keep your muscle as relaxed as possible by getting into a comfortable position. 

Make sure to keep an eye out for any side effects which can indicate a possible infection or other complications.

Signs to look for include redness, swelling, and heat or drainage at the injection site. Report anything you are concerned about to your doctor or nurse. If you or your partner are having difficulty mastering the injections, ask your healthcare provider for a tutorial, and bring your partner or a friend along so they can learn too. 

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