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What Is a Colonic Speculum?

By Synthia L. Rose
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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A colonic speculum is the trade tool of hydrotherapists who use the oblong instrument to irrigate the colon. While specula for the vagina can be metal and reusable, many governments have regulatory agencies requiring that a colonic speculum be made of sanitary plastic and disposable since it touches fecal matter; the United States’ Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is one such agency. Slightly resembling a tampon applicator, the barrel of a colonic speculum usually stretches roughly six inches (15.24 cm) in length, although no more than four inches (10.16 cm) are inserted.

Unlike other specula that can be used alone, the colonic speculum is a hollow barrel that must be used with an obturator. The obturator is a long rod with a curved nozzle that fits inside the speculum; it includes an end ring or flat end handle that allows the hydrotherapist to remove the obturator in order to connect hoses for waste evacuation. Parts of a colonic speculum include its smooth, tapered nose that guides insertion; the thin tubular body that is strong, but comfortable enough to hold back sphincter muscles in the anus; and finally a backstop that prevents over-insertion.

After the backstop, the speculum has a water connection port that juts out diagonally from the side of the device; this part of the speculum is never inserted into the client. This is where a therapist attaches a water line to flush out the rectum and begin the colon cleansing process. The water line is connected to a hydrotherapy machine that allows the therapist to control the force and temperature of the water; occasionally herbs and other additives are mixed into the water creating a cleansing solution.

During the actual colonic, a hydrotherapist first inserts the colonic speculum into the anus and pushes it through to the rectum. The obturator is then removed. At that point, water flow is started, hydrating impacted waste in the intestines and loosening it. After the client momentarily holds in the fluid, the water and waste are removed, usually through a closed system that does not allow odor or seepage. This process is typically repeated until most of the impacted waste is evacuated.

Risks accompany the use of a colonic speculum during hydrotherapy. Some patients have reported that their rectum or intestinal walls were perforated by specula or that hemorrhoids have been irritated, leading to bleeding. In clinics that do not comply with regulations for disposable specula, patients have reportedly contracted disease from waste residue on a colonic speculum. People with abdominal hernias or colon cancer are advised not to seek hydrotherapy of the colon.

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