Proper Insertion for Rectal Suppositories

Updated on November 21, 2016
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Tylenol Suppositories

Suppositories come in all shapes and sizes - its important to know how to use them properly
Suppositories come in all shapes and sizes - its important to know how to use them properly | Source

What Are Suppositories?

Suppositories are medications that are made to be inserted rectally, vaginally, or through the urethra. The suppository is made of a waxy material that incorporate the drug. Upon insertion into a body cavity, it melts and gets absorbed into the body through the blood vessels (or works on the colon surface in the case of laxatives). The medication can either work locally or throughout the body. Proper usage and insertion of suppositories are key to getting the most beneficial results.

Step 6 Position for Suppository

Proper position for suppository insertion
Proper position for suppository insertion | Source

Howcast Video on Suppositories

Rectal Suppositories

Rectal suppositories are generally used when people have a "NPO" status in hospitals - meaning they cannot have anything by mouth including food or medicine. In a community setting, people take suppositories because oral medication tastes bad or they have trouble swallowing tablets or capsules. Most common medications administered rectally include laxatives, hemorrhoidal preparations and pain medications. Using a suppository is generally safe and effective but asking your pharmacist for help before choosing a product would be wise.

The steps for using a suppository are:

  1. Wash your hands thoroughly (using a glove would be preferable)
  2. Make sure the suppository is cold and hard (in case you left it in the car under sweltering heat, simply make sure its refrigerated before use)
  3. Remove the aluminum foil (its very important, otherwise suppository wont melt and you can hurt yourself)
  4. If you were told you cut a suppository or if you want to cut it to make it smaller, then use a razor or knife to cut the suppository in half. Only insert the "bullet shaped" end rectally
  5. You can soften the bullet shaped end with a little bit of water or KY Gelly (or lubricant) to make it easier to insert
  6. Lie on your side with your lower leg straightened out and your upper leg bent forward toward your stomach (see picture)
  7. Lift up your buttocks and insert suppository around 1/2 inch to 1 inch into your rectum so it stays
  8. Do not get up right away, lie down for for 5-15 minutes to allow suppository to melt
  9. Discard your gloves, foil paper and any garbage. Wash hands with soap and water.

Example of Vaginal Suppository

Example of a vaginal suppository product with applicator and suppository products shown
Example of a vaginal suppository product with applicator and suppository products shown | Source

How to use a Suppository by a Pharmacist

Vaginal Suppositories

Vaginal suppositories are generally larger than rectal suppositories and can come in different shapes or sizes. They are meant to be inserted vaginally for the treatment of fungal infections or other local conditions. Using a suppository is generally safe and effective but asking your pharmacist for help before choosing a product would be wise.

Finish the suppository course as directed by pharmacist or doctor even if you have menstrual periods. Use a sanitary napkin to prevent staining of clothes. It is best if you use these products at bedtime to prevent leakage as you are less active. Use the bathroom before using suppository products to prevent wasting the products.You may notice some discharges at night or pink spotting but that is due to the suppository and irritation of the vagina - if you notice it is worsening or something is not feeling right, call your doctor or pharmacist for help.

The steps for using a suppository are:

With Applicator:

  1. Wash your hands with soap and water. You may use a glove with this product.
  2. Remove the suppository from the water. You can moisten it with water if needed.
  3. Place the suppository into the applicator (the think pencil looking thing with a plunger)
  4. Now lie back and raise your knees.
  5. Gently insert the applicator into the vagina. Be comfortable, you want it to be far enough so it does not ooze out.
  6. Press the plunger to release suppository and remove the applicator from the vagina
  7. Lie down and let it melt for 5-10 minutes (recommended you do this before bedtime so you can sleep)
  8. Discard the glove and any waste materials. Wash your hands after use.

Without applicator:

  1. Wash your hands with soap and water. You may use a glove.
  2. Remove the suppository from the water. You can moisten it with water if needed.
  3. Now lie back and raise your knees.
  4. Gently insert the applicator into the vagina as far as comfortable possible with your finger (up to your first knuckle at least)
  5. Lie down and let it melt for 5-10 minutes (recommended you do this before bedtime so you can sleep)
  6. Discard the glove and any waste materials. Wash your hands after use.

Example of Urethral Applicator

Medicated Urethral System for Erections (MUSE) applicator
Medicated Urethral System for Erections (MUSE) applicator | Source

Urethral Suppositories

Urethral suppositories are not commonly used and is used in the urethra for treat infections or severe erectile dysfunction in men. These suppositories are long and hard compared to vaginal or rectal suppositories, like a thin pencil lead. Using a suppository is generally safe and effective but asking your pharmacist for help before choosing a product would be wise.

The steps for using this suppository are:

  1. Urinate and shake your penis to remove any excess urine from the urethra
  2. Gently and slowly stretch the penis upward to its full length while gently squeezing the glans (opening area near the tip of the penis). This straightens and opens the urethra up for easier insertion with applicator.
  3. Open the applicator and insert it into the urethra slowly and comfortably.
  4. Press the button to release the suppository into the urethra and do not remove the applicator for 5-10 seconds.
  5. Slowly and gently move the applicator side to side to allow suppository to come out of applicator. Then remove the applicator while keeping the penis upright.
  6. Look at applicator to make sure suppository is not still in there, if it is still there, repeat steps 2-5.
  7. Massage the penis to help dissolve the suppository and remove any discomfort.
  8. Wash your hands and discard all waste products.

Concluding Thoughts

Suppositories have a myriad of uses, and it is important that you use them properly for their intended effect. Many suppository products have instructions with visual pictures on how to use the product safely. If you are unsure of product usage, please ask your pharmacist or doctor for tips and help.

Some things you should never do are:

  • Insert suppository with aluminum foil still on it
  • Eat a suppository
  • Share a suppository (or applicator) with anyone else

Always make sure you wash your hands before and after using the products. With over-the-counter (OTC) products, using a suppository for extended time without proper medical supervision may be harmful to your health. An example is using laxatives for too long—you might be masking other intestinal problems that may require medical attention.

If you have questions about how to properly insert or use a suppository, it is very important that you call your pharmacist or healthcare provider. Do not rely on internet recommendations for your medical decisions as it can be counterproductive.

If a child swallows a product, call your local poison control center immediately, and/or call 911.

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