Rectal suppositories are solid forms of medication that are inserted into the rectum. They come in different shapes and sizes, but they are usually narrowed at one end. Rectal suppositories can deliver many types of medication. For instance, they may contain glycerin to treat constipation or acetaminophen to treat a fever. Medication from a rectal suppository tends to work quickly. This is because the suppository melts inside the body and is absorbed directly into the bloodstream.
To insert a rectal suppository, you’ll need the suppository plus soap and water or hand sanitizer to clean your hands. You may also need a clean, single-edge razor blade and lubricating jelly.
You can use these instructions to use a rectal suppository yourself. If you’re a parent or caregiver, you can also use these steps to give a suppository to a child or another adult. If you have trouble giving yourself a rectal suppository, ask a loved one use these steps to help you.
- Gently squeeze the suppository to check if it is firm enough to insert. If it’s not, let it harden by holding it under cold water while it is still in the wrapper. You can also place it in the refrigerator for a few minutes.
- If possible, go to the bathroom and empty your bowels.
- Wash your hands with soap and water. If soap and water aren’t available, you can use hand sanitizer instead. Dry your hands with a clean towel or a paper towel.
- Remove your clothing to expose your buttocks.
- Remove any wrapping from the suppository. If you need to cut the suppository, carefully cut it lengthwise with a clean, single-edge razor blade.
- To moisten the tip of the suppository, apply a lubricating jelly such as K-Y Jelly. If you don’t have lubricating jelly, apply a small amount of water to your rectal area.
Inserting the suppository
- Get into position. You can stand with one foot up on a chair. You can also lie down on your side with your top leg slightly bent toward your stomach and with your bottom leg straight. If you’re giving the suppository to someone else, you may want to place them in this second position.
- Relax your buttocks to make it easier to insert the suppository.
- Insert the suppository into the rectum, narrow end first. Gently but firmly, push the suppository past the sphincter. The sphincter is the muscular opening of the rectum. For adults, push it in one inch. For children, depending on their size, push it in a half inch to one inch. And for infants, push it in about a half inch.
- Sit or lie with your legs closed for 15 minutes. If you’re giving the suppository to a child, you may need to gently hold their buttocks closed during this time.
- Throw away all used material in a trash can.
- Wash your hands right away with soap and warm water.
If the suppository comes out after you insert it, you may not have pushed it far enough into the rectum. Be sure to push the suppository past the sphincter, which is the muscular opening of the rectum.
These steps should make it easy and painless to insert a rectal suppository. If you have questions or if you’re having trouble inserting a suppository, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.
When are rectal suppositories used?