There are a couple of different ways to insert a suppository, and the specifics usually depend on the type of device at issue. The most common tend to be rectal, but there are also vaginal options available in some cases. Where rectal insertions are concerned, the easiest and most recommended method usually involves lying on your side and gently pushing the smaller end of the suppository with a single finger through the rectal opening and into the anus. Once it’s fully inside, you’ll want to tense your sphincter muscle to hold it in. You may need to reinsert your finger to reposition the suppository if it feels uncomfortable. Vaginal options usually work in about the same way, but you’ll want to insert the suppository directly into the vagina. In these cases it’s usually easiest to prop one leg up or sit with the legs spread and the back slightly arched, then push it into the vaginal opening with one finger. In both rectal and vaginal situations the whole thing will dissolve and absorb into your bloodstream, so there’s no need to remove it later. Most experts also recommend washing the hands thoroughly both before and after insertion, and wearing sterile gloves as an added precaution is usually advisable, too.
Most suppositories are relatively small and typically have a slightly conical shape, with one end noticeably wider than the other. As a general rule you always want the narrower end to go in first. This both makes application easier and helps reduce friction and pain.
The main goal of most of these types of products is medication delivery. They usually provide direct and immediate absorption, and can be good choices for people who are too sick to swallow or keep down oral medications. Medications such as acetaminophen, given to reduce pain and fever, and anti-nausea medications are often available in suppository form, for instance.
They’re also popular for specially intestinal issues, such as constipation. Pediatricians often recommend glycerin suppositories for babies who are constipated and aren’t able to try diet-based or other natural remedies. Vaginal suppositories, similarly, are most common for the treatment of chronic yeast infections and vaginal irritation.
Safety and Cleanliness Concerns
Both the anus and the vagina are parts of the body rich in bacteria and, as mainly porous tissues, both are also prone to irritation from outside elements. Making sure that your hands are really clean before beginning is accordingly very important. Experts usually recommend washing with soap and hot water, and wearing sterile latex or other exam-style gloves can be an additional protection. Glove use is almost always recommended when inserting a suppository into another person. When you’re done, take care to wash your hands again to keep from spreading germs to whatever you touch next.
Some people find the application process somewhat painful, particularly if their tissues are dry and the suppository is firm. Some come with a lubrication gel coating the outside to make insertion easier, but using a water-based lubricant can be helpful too. In general medical professionals don’t recommend using petroleum jelly, since its thickness can change the way the needed medication absorbs.
Suppositories are also commonly prescribed for use vaginally to treat infections or to provide lubrication for dry vaginal tissue. These are inserted in the same manner as tampons. In some women, vaginal suppositories can cause burning, inflammation, and itching. If the vaginal suppository is improperly inserted, pain and difficulty urinating can result. In fact, an improperly inserted vaginal suppository can cause a urinary tract infection, which will need to be evaluated by a health care professional.
Possible Side Effects
Suppositories usually work quickly and are an effective means of delivering relief, but there are some side effects and precautions to be aware of before getting started. People who suffer from chronic diarrhea or other gastrointestinal problems shouldn’t typically use suppositories, since they can worsen the symptoms and increase irritation. Occasionally a suppository will cause severe abdominal cramping, persistent diarrhea, and nausea. Although these side effects are generally rare, they can be quite serious. It’s usually a good idea to talk to your doctor right away if you feel any serious discomfort or have pain related to a suppository that doesn’t seem to go away on its own.