HF 5450

How to Give Yourself Intramuscular (IM) Injections

This handout will guide you through the steps to give yourself an injection. If you have any questions or concerns, please ask your health care provider. The clinic phone number is _____________________.


  • Needles and syringes

  • Alcohol swabs or bottle of rubbing alcohol and cotton balls

  • Gauze pad

  • Vial with the drug solution

  • Sharps Container (see HFFY #4587)

  • Band-Aids®

    5450 image 1


  1. Wash your hands well with soap and water. Gather the supplies you need and place them on a clean, dry surface.

  2. Note: If your syringe is already drawn up, skip steps 2-7.

  3. Screw a needle on the syringe hub unless your syringe comes with a needle already attached.

  4. Vial: Flip off the plastic top. Use an alcohol swab and wipe that area well using outward circular motion for 10 seconds.

  5. Remove the needle cover. To draw air into the syringe, pull the plunger back to the correct volume, ______ cc (ml). (Diagram A)

  6. Insert the needle straight into the vial through the rubber top. Inject air into the bottle by pushing down on the plunger. (Diagram B)

  7. Using one hand, turn the vial with the syringe upside down. Be sure the needle is in the bottle and below the fluid level. Draw back the plunger to the correct mark, _____ ml. (Diagram C)

  8. Check for air bubbles in the syringe. Bubbles can be removed by flicking the syringe with your finger. If the air bubble is at the top of the syringe, push gently on the plunger so the air goes back to the bottle. Before removing the needle, be sure you have the proper amount in the syringe.

  9. Remove the needle from the vial. It is OK to put the cover on the needle for a short time. Be very careful not to stick yourself. Never place the syringe with uncovered needle on the surface you are working on.

    5450 image 2 a
    5450 image 2 b
    5450 image 2 c

Note: You should not inject more than 3 mL at one site. If the amount is more than 3 mL, divide the drug solution into two equal volumes and inject at two different sites. For example, your dose is 5 mL. Use 2 syringes with 2.5 mL in each one and inject the medicine at 2 different sites.

Now, you are ready to inject!

To give yourself an injection you will use your thigh.

  1. Use the middle outer part of the thigh to inject. The best area is one hand length below the hip and one hand length above the knee. Use a 20–22-gauge, 1-1½ needle. See the shaded area on the figure.

    5450 image 3

  2. Clean the skin area with an alcohol swab, unless otherwise instructed by your health care provider. Clean an area 2 inches in diameter. Use firm circular motions while moving outward from the injection site. Let the area dry for 20 seconds.

  3. Remove the needle cover. Never touch the needle.

  4. Spread the skin at the site between your thumb and index finger using your left hand if you are right-handed or your right hand if you are
    left-handed (non- dominant hand). It will be helpful if you have a cotton ball or clean gauze ready to cover the site once you have pulled the needle out.

  5. With your dominant hand, hold the syringe like a dart at a 90 angle to the site.

  6. Insert the needle straight into the skin with a quick firm motion.

    5450 image 4

  7. Supporting the syringe with your nondominant hand, pull the plunger slightly with your dominant hand to check for blood unless your health care provider has told you this step is not needed. If you see blood in the syringe, do not inject the medicine and take the syringe out and throw it away in a Sharps container. Put gentle pressure on the site with a cotton ball or gauze for 30 seconds to 1 minute. You can massage gently. Start over with steps 2-9 to draw up a new dose of medicine and inject at a new site.

  8. If there is no blood, inject the medicine slowly until the syringe is empty.

  9. Take the needle out quickly, at the angle in which it was injected.

  10. Place a cotton ball or gauze at the injection site and put pressure on the site for 30 seconds to 1 minute.

  11. Throw away the needle and syringe in the Sharps container. Do not recap the needle!

  12. Do not give yourself an injection in the same place every time. You may want to use your left thigh one time and your right thigh the next. It may help to write down the site where you gave your last injection and the date. This way you can make sure you always use a different site.