A suppository is an individually packaged medicine shaped like a bullet, which can be inserted into the rectum, vagina, or urethra and absorbed into the blood stream after dissolving. It is generally given to patients because of their systemic effects for relieving nausea, reducing fever or providing analgesia; or for their local effect on the gastrointestinal mucosa to make defecation smooth.
How to Insert a Suppository
- Suppositories should not be used if you have intestinal obstruction or rectal bleeding.
- Generally, suppositories should only be used when necessary during pregnancy. It is not yet clear whether they pass into breast milk, so consult your doctor if you are nursing.
- Before using, tell your doctor if you have any allergies, especially with glycerin. Inactive ingredients contained in the suppository may cause unexpected allergic reactions, so talk to your doctor first.
- Also inform him/her of your medical history if you have any other bowel problems or abdominal symptoms such as pain or persistent vomiting.
- If you have experienced a sudden change in the habits of your bowel movement lasting longer than 2 weeks, or if you have used any kind of laxative for longer than a week, consult your doctor before using a suppository.
How to Insert a Suppository: Rectal
- Preparing the suppository
- Infections caused by germs or bacteria can easily enter through your rectum, so make sure you wash your hands thoroughly, even if you’re wearing gloves for the process.
- Cut your nails if they’re too long, otherwise you may end up harming your rectal lining with your long nails.
- Read what is written on the packaging carefully because how many suppositories you need to use depends on your laxative dosage.
- Adhere to the instructions mentioned.
- If a full dose is not required, then cut your suppository in half lengthwise (which will make the process of insertion easier).
- Apply a finger cot or disposable latex gloves.
- Inserting the suppository
- You can either stand with one leg on a chair, or lay on one side with one leg straight and the other leg bent toward your stomach. Then, insert the suppository.
- To make the process of insertion smoother, pull your upper right butt cheek upwards to expose the rectum. Push it in lengthwise with your index finger.
- Children need to push in the suppository at least ½ in inside their rectum while adults need to push it inside at least 1 inch.
- Ensure that your suppository is inserted past the sphincter, otherwise it may accidentally come out.
- After the insertion, hold your butt-cheeks in tightly for a couple of seconds to prevent the suppository from slipping.
- Lie in the same position for several minutes after the suppository has been inserted.
- The medicine takes effect anywhere between 13-60 minutes, causing a bowel movement.
- When you’re done, take off your gloves and rinse your hands with soap for at least half a minute.
For a demonstration of how to insert a rectal suppository, please watch:
How to Insert a Suppository: Vaginal
- As always, make sure you rinse your hands with warm water and soap.
- Remove the suppository’s plastic wrapping or foil and put it in the applicator.
- Now, hold the applicator from the opposite.
- Either lie on your back with your knees bent, or stand with your feet spread a few inches apart and your knees bent.
- Slowly, start inserting the applicator inside your vagina and keep pushing so long as you’re comfortable. Then, push in the inside of the applicator.
- Remove the applicator.
- Make sure you rinse your hands with warm water and soap.
Tips on How to Insert a Suppository
- Unless requested by your doctor, never use a suppository more than once a day as frequent use could result in your having bowel movements only with the help of laxatives.
- Abdominal pain, diarrhea, decreased weight and weakness are symptoms of overuse, so make sure you immediately visit your doctor if they manifest.
- Keep your suppository in the refrigerator for half an hour (with the foil) if you feel it is too soft to insert.
Other Considerations Regarding How to Insert a Suppository
Children and the Elderly
A lot of children and senior citizens find it difficult to keep their suppositories in proper places, so you should help them by holding their buttock cheeks gently for 5-10 minutes to ensure their suppositories remain in place. Always educate children and elderly about the importance of infection control, especially since such knowledge can prevent the spread of fecal material.
- Suppositories should be kept safely out of the reach of children.
- Make sure the suppositories are kept in room temperatures inside sealed containers. Keep them frozen and away from moisture, heat or direct sunlight.
- Get rid of expired medicine.