Reducing Intramuscular and Subcutaneous Injection Pain

Let's face it. Nobody likes taking an injection. The fear of pain and the sight of a needle, no matter how big, can be intimidating for most people. Unfortunately for women undergoing infertility treatment, injections are a part of the process and are often required every day. But injections can be very doable (and hopefully worth it!) with some prior knowledge and practice. 

Here are 5 tips to reduce the pain associated with at-home fertility injections.

Numb the Area

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Use ice or an ice pack to numb the injection site on your skin for several minutes prior to the injection. Make sure to clean the area with an alcohol pad afterward. Some numbing creams are available, as well. Make sure to check with your doctor before using one.

Intramuscular Injections? Get into Position

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Position yourself however you can reduce tension in the muscle. 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. 

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

Make sure to palpate the muscle before doing the injection to make sure that the muscle can support the medication to be delivered. 

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Subcutaneous Injection? Choose the Best Site

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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.

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Keep the Goal in Mind

If it gets difficult, think about why you are taking the medication. If it is because you are trying to get pregnant or fight a disease, keeping that goal in mind may make the fear or anxiety ease a little. Remembering the reason can help reduce both the anxiety and pain. It can also help you keep the discomfort in perspective. And remember, you won't be doing these shots forever, they will end. Promise. 

Know When to Ask for Help

If all else fails, have someone else administer the injection like your partner. If that's not possible, contact your doctor's office. Sitting down and working with a healthcare professional to show you the best way to do the injection 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.

Updated by PCOS Expert Angela Grassi, MS, RDN, LDN 

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