Having IVF treatment is a daunting time, not least because of thought of administering your own injections. So here’s a guide to giving yourself an injection and take it from me, a seasoned pro, once you’ve done your first one, the rest are much, much easier.
Most IVF injections are subcutaneous, which means they go into the fatty layer of tissue just below the surface of the skin. You might hear subcutaneous IVF injections referred to as ‘subcut’ which is just short for subcutaneous.
Some IVF drugs are intramuscular, which means they go deeper, into the muscle, but your doctor will tell you if you have any of those drugs and how to administer them. This guide is for subcutaneous injections only.
Preparing to Inject
If your medication is stored in the fridge, remove it around 30 minutes before you’re due to inject so that it’s at room temperature.
Before you start, make sure you’re as relaxed as possible, with plenty of time to spare and no distractions, and wash your hands.
Lay all of your necessary medications, plus alcohol swabs and gauze if you’re using them, on a clean surface. Keep your sharps box nearby too.
Preparing Your Medications
If any of your medications need preparing, do so now. Some IVF drugs are in a prefilled syringe and require no mixing, others need to be mixed and the needle attached to the syringe.
If you need to mix your medication, follow the dosage instructions provided by your doctor. The needle used to mix your medication is usually larger than the one you’ll use to inject yourself.
Once you’ve mixed your medication, draw your dosage into the syringe then replace the mixing needle with the needle you’ll be using to inject. Discard the mixing needle into your sharps box.
If you’re using a pre-filled syringe with the needle already attached, remove the cap off the needle.
Administering the Injection
Hold your syringe upright to the light and give it a few gentle taps to encourage any air bubbles to rise to the top towards the needle. It’s OK if one or two bubbles remain.
Now, with the syringe still upright, gently press the plunger on the syringe a tiny amount to expel the air bubbles. You should notice a small drop of the medication at the tip of the needle.
Avoid touching the needle on any surface, as it’s sterile and needs to stay that way as it enters your skin. You can lay it down on your clean surface but make sure the actual needle doesn’t touch anywhere.
Your doctor would’ve discussed your injection site with you. Most of the time it’s in your abdomen, at least an inch below your belly button. Your medication may come with a diagram that demonstrates the correct area. Avoid injecting through a scar or irritated area. Aim to administer each different injection in a slightly different place, still at least an inch below your belly button to avoid making your skin irritated.
Once you’ve chosen your injection site, wipe it with an alcohol swab if you’re using them and allow the skin to naturally air dry.
Carefully pick up your syringe in your dominant hand and hold it like you would a dart. Double check you have the right dose.
Pinch about an inch of skin with your other hand in the correct site and gently lift it up. This helps to ensure you’re not injecting into muscle.
Take a deep breath, and with no rushing, when you slowly exhale, using your thumb gently but firmly push the needle into your skin at a 90 degree angle to your body. Once the needle is in fully, let go of your pinched skin.
Depress the syringe until the full dose is administered. You can do this as slowly as you like.
Now remove your thumb from the syringe and slowly and gently remove the needle at the same angle, using your clean gauze to hold your skin down as you go.
Use the gauze to absorb any blood. Most of the time there won’t be any blood, but on occasion you may graze a blood vessel – any bleeding will soon stop.
Discard your needle into your sharps box and put any unused medication back to where you store it.
Breathe a deep sigh of relief, you’ve done it! Next time you’ll know what to expect and it won’t feel as daunting. You’ve got this!