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How To Use an Enema

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Updated June 29, 2013

Enema

An enema may be used as a preparation for a colonoscopy or to treat constipation.

Photo © Dmitry Poliansky
An enema may be used for several purposes, including in preparation for a colonoscopy, sigmoidoscopy, surgery, or to treat constipation or fecal impaction. It may seem like a challenging procedure to accomplish on your own, but it can be done in most cases without difficulty. Take your time, and follow your doctor's instructions and those instructions that come with your enema kit.
Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: 2 hours

Here's How:

  1. Remove the cap from the tip of the enema nozzle.
  2. If you anticipate discomfort or difficulty, apply some petroleum jelly to the anus to ease insertion of the enema.
  3. Lie on the floor on your left side, with your right knee bent.
  4. Gently insert the tip of the enema nozzle into your rectum using your right hand. This may be uncomfortable, but it should not be severe pain.
  5. After fully inserting the nozzle, start squeezing the enema container to push the enema liquid into the rectum. Try to empty all the liquid from the container by squeezing from the bottom of the container to the top.
  6. Slowly withdraw the nozzle from the rectum.
  7. Wait the recommended amount of time before evacuating your bowels. This could be anywhere from 2 to 15 minutes. Typical waiting time for results from various enema preparations are:
    • Bisacodyl: 15 minutes to 1 hour
    • Docusate: 2 to 15 minutes
    • Glycerin: 15 minutes to 1 hour
    • Mineral oil: 2 to 15 minutes
    • Senna: in 30 minutes up to 2 hours
    • Sodium: 2 to 5 minutes
  8. Stay close to a toilet for the next 30 minutes to an hour, as you may need to evacuate your bowels several times.

Tips:

  1. Always use an enema kit recommended by your physician.
  2. Contact your doctor if you can not complete the enema, or experience severe discomfort or pain.

What You Need

  • Enema kit
  • Towels
  • Floor space large enough to lie on your side comfortably for several minutes
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