Suppositories for Constipation

Constipation is a common problem among those who choose to eat processed foods and low fiber foods, and also don't drink enough water. Lack of activity, being pregnant, and taking medications, such as painkillers, can lead to a person not being able to have a regular bowel movement. Fortunately, there are suppositories for constipation that can ease the problem without resorting to harsh laxatives that can ruin the gut.

Suppositories for Constipation Overview

Suppository is a small glycerin-based tube that has medications imbedded into it. Suppositories can be divided into vaginal suppositories, rectal suppositories, and urethral suppositories. They have the capability of melting and releasing medications that act on the entire body or that act locally in the area where the suppository is inserted. Detailed information about various types of suppositories is list below:

  • Vaginal suppositories. These can be used to deliver antibiotics to the vaginal area, to provide medications for female hygiene, as contraceptive agents, and to deliver medications that alter the environment of the vagina.
  • Urethral suppositories. These are rarely used and often must be compounded by special compounding pharmacies.
  • Rectal suppositories. These are primarily suppositories for constipation, although some suppositories can deliver acetaminophen, anti-emetics, and other types of medications. They are shaped like small bullets and are inserted into the anus. Most rectal suppositories are designed to dissolve at normal body temperatures, where the medication is released and absorbed into the rectal mucosa and the blood that supplies the rectum.

How Do Suppositories for Constipation Work?

Suppositories for constipation can contain laxative medication or can just be made of bullets of glycerin. The suppositories with laxative medication work by triggering the contraction of intestinal muscle. The glycerin suppositories work by:

  • ŸLubrication. When the glycerin suppositories melt, they soften the stool for easier passage through the anus. When the stool is softer, the chances of getting hemorrhoids are less. The stool passes easily through the anus and the bowel usually evacuates along with the melted suppository material.
  • ŸHydration. Sometimes the stool is very hard and cannot pass through the anus. The glycerin in the suppository will bring in water from the bowel so that the stool is more hydrated and less firm. This type of suppository is also helpful in causing the muscles of the rectum to contract better, so the bowel movement is more complete.
  • ŸIrritation. Glycerin in the suppository irritates the lining of the rectum to make the contractions of rectum so that the softer stool can be easily evacuated.

How to Use Suppositories for Constipation

Before inserting the suppository, you need to thoroughly wash your hands with mild soap and water and dry them off. Remove the suppository from the wrapper (if any) and refrigerate it for a few minutes if it has become too soft to insert into the rectum. If just half the suppository is necessary, use a blade to cut the suppository in the middle, saving the other half for another use.

If you have a finger cot or disposable glove, put it on as you will be inserting part of your finger into the anus. Use a water-soluble lubricant and coat the suppository. Try not to use Vaseline because this will block the flow of medication from the suppository. If you don't have a lubricant, use water to wet down the area around the anus. Lie down on your side with your lower leg straight and the upper leg bent. Insert the suppository into the rectum, making sure it gets past the anal sphincter and stays in. Hold your butt cheeks together for a minute so that the suppository is sucked up into the rectum. Stay on your side for about five minutes so you can guarantee that the suppository won't slip out. Throw away the finger cot or disposable glove and wash your hands again.


There may be leakage from the anus if the suppository melts and turns to liquid. For this reason, you might want to insert the suppository at night before going to bed unless your doctor suggests otherwise. Some suppositories are not clear and will stain your clothing, so make sure you aren't wearing your best clothes. Don't forget to keep the suppositories in a dark and cool location, but avoid the refrigerator unless directed. If you let the suppository get too hot, it will melt and will not easily insert into the rectum.

You can also learn the usage of suppositories from the video below:

How Effective Are the Suppositories for Constipation?

Just how effective a suppository is depends on what kind of medication is in the suppository. Those that contain a bowel stimulant besides glycerin will work faster than a suppository that just contains glycerin. Some suppositories do not contain any type of stimulant but contain only a lubricant. A lubricant suppository will make it simpler to expel the stool but won't work if the stool is extremely hard. Those suppositories that contain a stimulant and a lubricant work the best and will both stimulate the muscles of the colon to contract and will lubricate the stool being expelled. Ask your doctor what type of suppository you should be using before going out and buying one.

When you use a suppository for relief of constipation, you will likely get a more prompt response than if you choose to use a laxative you take by mouth. It takes about twelve hours or more for an oral laxative to take effect, but it takes a rectal suppository only about an hour to give you relief. If you try taking an oral laxative and it doesn't work very well, you can add a rectal suppository for constipation.

There are some side effects to using suppositories for constipation. Some of these include cramping of the abdomen, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. In some cases, there can be rectal irritation from the suppository or nausea, depending on the medication imbedded in the suppository. 

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