How to Self-Administer an Intramuscular (IM) Injection

Vertisis Custom Pharmacy is invested in the health and wellbeing of our patents and we are happy to offer videos and instructions on how to properly use and administer our products. The video above and the information provided will help you by providing step by step instructions on how to self-administer an intramuscular (IM) injection. Note that these instructions are not a substitute for professional advice from a qualified physician or healthcare provider.

An IM, or intramuscular injection, is a shot that delivers medication directly to the vascular muscle through a syringe. An IM injection allows for medication to take effect quicker than sublingual, digestive, or even skin absorptive delivery and it can be easily self-administered at your own convenience. The IM must be injected in one of the four major muscle sites on the body for safe and effective IM injection administration. The four administration sites are:

  • The upper arm (deltoid muscle)
  • The hip (ventrogluteal muscle)
  • The thigh (vastus lateralis muscle)
  • Or the buttocks (dorsogluteal muscle)

For self-administration, the thigh is typically the best injection site as it is the easiest to access.

Step 1: Gathering and Checking Supplies

Before beginning, it is important to make sure that you have gathered all necessary supplies. These include:

  • Hand sanitizer or soap and water
  • At least one alcohol swab
  • At least one sterile 2x2 gauze pad
  • A new needle and syringe (sized accordingly)
  • Medications for administration
  • Disposable gloves
  • And a syringe disposal container

Next, you will need to check your syringe and needle. A syringe consists of three parts:

  • The needle – the component that pierces the skin and inserts into the muscle
  • The barrel – the chamber that holds and measures the medication.
  • The plunger – the component that controls the administration of medication.

When examining the syringe and needle check the package containing the syringe. If open or damaged, discard and choose another. You will also need to check the needle gauge and length. The gauge refers to the diameter of the needle. The larger the gauge number, the smaller the needle diameter will be. The length is measured in inches and is typically dependent on the size of the adult being injected.

It is also important to dispose of your syringes and needles correctly. Needles and syringes should not be thrown in general trash, are not recyclable, and are subject to state laws regarding proper disposal. You may receive or need to purchase a hard-plastic container made specifically for used syringes and needles. In a pinch, you can use a soda bottle or some other plastic bottle with a screw lid.

Step 2: Preparing the Injection and Injection site

Once you’ve gathered all your materials, it’s time to choose an injection site. When trying to determine the most suitable injection site, you need to consider both the ease of access and the volume of medication you intend to inject. Some sites cannot handle large volumes, such as the deltoid which can only handle 1-2 cc, while others may be more prone to skin trauma, such as the buttocks. The best site to insert an IM when you are alone is the thigh since it is the easiest to access and see. It also has the capacity to handle larger needle sizes. However, it is always a good idea to switch up the injection sites to prevent any skin irritation and scarring. Keep a log of where on the body you last administered an injection, with date and time. It is now time to begin application of your IM injected medication.

Begin by reviewing this checklist to ensure the procedure is done correctly:

  • Wash and dry or sanitize hands before handling the injection supplies
  • Check syringe for being opened or damaged, get another syringe if you notice anything wrong with it
  • Always use the exact dose that you have been prescribed
  • Don’t allow the needle to touch anything other than the medication vial. Do not remove the cap until you are ready to insert the needle
  • Some medicines will require reconstitution prior to use. Always follow the instructions provided by the pharmacy and/or your medical professional
  • Seek professional advice if you are unsure about any step in the process

Now you can prepare the injection by following these steps:

  1. Choose your injection site and clean the site with an alcohol swab and let dry, remember to choose a site that is easy to access and is suitable for the volume of medication needed.
  2. Remove the cap from the medicine vial and clean the rubber stopper with an alcohol swab.
  3. Remove the cover from the needle and hold as you would a pen, do not let the needle touch any surfaces.
  4. Pull back on the plunger to draw air into the syringe filling it to the same volume as the dose of medication you have been prescribed.
  5. With the vial on a flat surface, insert the needle in the rubber center and push the plunger to expel the air into the vial.
  6. With the needle still inserted into the vial, rotate the vial upside-down and pull back on the plunger to draw the liquid into the syringe ensuring you draw the correct dose.
  7. Once you have drawn the correct dose, check for air bubbles by tapping the side of the syringe and depress the plunger slightly to expel any air that may be in the syringe.
  8. Finally, double check you have the right dose of medication in the syringe then remove the needle from the vial.

Step 3: Injecting Your Medication

Before injecting go through this checklist to makes sure you are prepared.

  • Make sure your hands have been washed with soap and dried thoroughly
  • Make sure the needle and injection dose has been properly prepared
  • Make sure the injection site has been cleaned with an alcohol swab and allowed to dry
  • Make sure the needle does not come in contact with any surface
  • Make sure to insert the intramuscular injection at a 90-degree angle to the injection site
  • If blood appears in the syringe when inserted, then you must remove and dispose of the needle and prepare a new shot
  • Make sure to inject, not push, the needle and medication in slowly

You are now prepared to inject the medication. Carefully follow the instructions below:

  1. Spread skin taut to reveal the muscle and insert the needle at a 90-degree angle.
  2. Without withdrawing the needle, slowly and slightly draw back on the plunger to ensure you haven’t pierced a blood vessel. If blood is visible inside the syringe, discard the needle and begin again in a new location with a fresh needle. If no blood is visible continue to the next step.
  3. Inject medication by slowly pushing on the plunger until all medication has been administered.
  4. Quickly withdraw the needle and apply pressure to the injection site for a short period of time with gauze or a cotton ball.
  5. Discard the syringe appropriately, needles and syringes should not be thrown in the general trash and are not recyclable, and are subject to state laws regarding proper disposal.

We hope that the video and instructions have been helpful. As always, please check with your healthcare provider before administering any medications. If you have any questions about IM injections or any Vertisis products please give us a call at 1-888-285-5841, or visit us at

Vertisis Custom Pharmacy. Your partner in the future of medicine.