Tips For Easing the Pain of Fertility Injections

Even if you’re not afraid of needles, the thought of daily fertility medication injections can be overwhelming for intended mothers, egg donors, and gestational carriers alike. We’ve all seen those photos on social media – the ones where the newborn baby is surrounded by empty medical syringes – and anyone going through fertility treatment can certainly relate. Injections are a fact of IVF life for most people.

There are some doctors who offer an injection-free protocol for gestational carriers – they use birth control pills instead of Lupron, estrogen patches or pills, and progesterone suppositories. While I’ve never had an entirely injection-free protocol prescribed for me, over the years I have used estrogen patches and pills and progesterone suppositories. The estrogen pills worked fine – I took them orally – but some doctors prescribe them to be used vaginally. I will say that I’m very glad I didn’t have to do that because the pills are a bright shade of blue, and what goes up must come down…and well… you can imagine the rest.

Several times I was prescribed progesterone suppositories and in my opinion, they were no fun at all. As if injectable meds are fun? No, definitely not, but I still found them preferable to the suppositories. Why? Two words. THE MESS. They are seriously messy in your underpants, even if you’re wearing a panty liner.  One brand I used was very oily and another brand was very sticky. Yuck. Enough said!

Some women prefer to administer their own shots, some have their partner give them, and still others opt to have a visiting nurse administer them. During my first two surrogacies, my husband gave me all of my shots, which I know he didn’t love but I very much appreciated. By my third surrogacy I was ready to take over the process for myself and once I conquered my nerves, it was actually much moreconvenient to just do them myself (disclaimer: I’m a HUGE fan of Emla numbing cream – that was my secret weapon throughout my years of shots).

Over the course of seven surrogacies I had nine cycles, and got pregnant eight of those times (the other time the cycle was cancelled prior to transfer). I’m not going to do the math, but I know the number of injections I did is well into the hundreds and over the course of all those cycles and shots, I did manage to learn a few things and pick up a few tricks to ease the process that I hope will help ease your injection experience as well.

Subcutaneous Injections:

  • Inject into an area that has a thicker layer of fat (such as the belly instead of the thigh)
  • Pinch up the area where you’ll insert the needle in order to separate it from the muscle below
  • Firmly squeeze your flesh between your fingers (not so much you bruise yourself, though!) to distract from the pinch of the needle jabbing into your belly
  • Lightly poke the needle around the area to find a spot that’s less sensitive
  • Use a cold pack on the skin to numb the area prior to the injection

Intramuscular Injections:

  • Warm the medication slightly (such as in your bra or in a pocket) for several minutes before injecting
  • Use a cold pack on the skin to numb the area prior to the injection
  • Relax the muscle you’re injecting into by leaning over a counter or sink and taking weight off of the hip you’re going into, or lay face down on a bed if your partner is giving you the injection
  • Pull the skin taught prior to inserting the needle
  • Withdraw the needle smoothly and without wiggling it around
  • Massage the area firmly for several minutes to disperse the medication into the muscle
  • Apply a heat pack to the area after the injection

For all Injections:

  • Always wait for the alcohol to dry completely before inserting the needle – otherwise it will sting!
  • Try distraction! Use the tv, music, or a magazine to draw focus away from the injection.
  • Try a topical numbing cream that contains lidocaine (over-the-counter) or Emla (available by prescription in the US and over-the-counter in Canada) – be sure to apply it according to the directions and give it a good 30 minutes to take effect.


In all honestly, even after doing hundreds of injections and getting my blood drawn countless times over seven surrogacies, every time was a bit of a challenge to me and even to this day needles are still somewhat challenging for me (I most definitely can’t look when I have my blood drawn!).  Yet I managed to get through them all and at times even chose injectable medications over other forms (I knew it worked and who wants to mess with success?).

Sometimes the key is taking the injections one by one, day by day and remembering that they won’t last forever, and if all goes well, the stress and hassle of them will be very well worth it!