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Rectal Suppositories: How To Open & Insert

Affordable compounded suppositories

Rectal suppositories are a dosage form that contains medication intended to be inserted into the rectum.  They can come in different shapes or sizes and most commonly have a narrow end at one side. The suppository typically melts once placed inside the body where the medication is then absorbed. 

How to Insert Rectal Suppositories

Step 1: If needed, go to the bathroom to empty your bowels. If you are unsure, ask your doctor. 

Step 2: Wash your hands thoroughly with warm soapy water and dry them with a clean towel.

Steps to wash hands

How to open a suppository

Step 3: Unwrap your suppository and check to see that it is firm enough to insert.  Do this by gently pressing between your fingers but be careful to not smash the suppository.  If it is not firm enough for insertion, you can cool it by placing it in the fridge for a few minutes.

Step 4: Dip the tip in clean water if you are concerned that it will not insert smoothly.

Step 5: Remove your clothing to expose your rectal area and get into a comfortable position.  You can place one foot up on a chair or lay on your side on the bed with the top leg slightly bent towards your belly and your bottom leg straight, this position will help expose the rectum.  If you are helping someone insert the suppository the second position is often preferred.

Person pointing there index finger

Step 6: Carefully push the suppository in, tapered end first, approximately ½ to 1 inch if using your finger. This should not cause pain.  For pediatric patients, the distance may be shorter depending on the size of the child. 

Step 7: Sit or lie still for about 10 to 15 minutes to allow the medicine to dissolve.

Step 8: Wash your hands again thoroughly with warm soapy water.

Step 9: Some of the medicine may leak back out. If this is a concern, a pad or similar absorbent product can be placed inside the underwear.

Talk to your doctor or pharmacist

Health professional talking to patient

Placing a rectal suppository should be easy and painless. Talk with your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions or are having trouble inserting the suppository properly. Check with your doctor if you notice rectal bleeding, blistering, pain, burning, itching, or other sign of irritation not present before you started using this medicine.

Question: When are rectal suppositories used?
Answer: Rectal suppositories may be used to deliver certain medications to the intestine and rectal/anal area. These medications include laxatives, drugs to treat internal hemorrhoids, and a variety of other uses determined by your doctor.  Occasionally, rectal suppositories may be utilized if the medication is unable to be delivered with another dosage form, for instance, if the patient is vomiting or cannot ingest the medication by mouth. They can also be used to treat seizures, during which a patient isn’t able to take medication by mouth.

Question: What if the suppository comes out after inserting it?
Answer: It is possible that you may not have pushed it far enough into the rectum. The suppository needs to be pushed past muscle at the opening of the rectum or the sphincter.  Typically, patients are instructed to insert approximately ½ to 1 inch, which is the distance for most adults. Pediatric patients may only need to insert ½ inch. If you are still having trouble contact your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

Helpful tips

  1. Tips

    Suppositories often are stored in a cool place to prevent melting and sometimes are kept in the fridge. Check with your doctor or pharmacist if you are unsure.

  2. You can use finger cots or gloves to keep insertion clean and protect your fingers while inserting the suppository. You can order these along with your prescription, just call the pharmacy to request they be purchased along with your prescription.
  3. Some people choose to trim fingernails short and round to help prevent scratches or cuts while inserting the suppository.
  4. Unless the suppository is a laxative, try not to empty your bowels for approximately one hour after inserting the suppository. Try to avoid exercise or excessive movement for approximately one hour.
  5. It’s recommended to avoid using items such as vaseline in an attempt to help with the lubrication of the suppository. Using it can keep the suppository from melting after it’s inserted. Instead, use a water-soluble lubricant. 
  6. Store medication out of the reach of children.

We can ensure your next medication is compounded with the same quality and care as this one.
When you approach the end of your compounded suppository call:
Coast to Coast Compounding (303-237-4478)
*Please allow 24-48hr to prepare your suppository*

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