October 14, 2021
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Suppositories are solid medications that enter the body through the rectum, vagina, or urethra. Rectal suppositories are the most common type of suppository.
Doctors recommend the different forms of suppositories for different medical conditions and purposes. People place some in the rectum and others in the vagina. Less commonly, a person will need to use urethral suppositories.
We give step-by-step guidance on how to use suppositories in this article.
We also provide some helpful troubleshooting tips and advice for people who need to use this type of medication.
Uses of suppositories
Suppositories are another way to deliver drugs to the body when other routes, such as oral, cannot be used.
A suppository is small and may be round, oval, or cone-shaped. A substance, such as cocoa butter or gelatin, surrounds the medication. The suppository dissolves to release the drug once inside the body.
Suppositories may treat the local area, or the medicine may travel to other parts of the body through the bloodstream.
Why use suppositories?
Suppositories deliver many types of medication, and a person may need to use them if they:
People may also take suppositories if the medication:
Research also suggests that taking medications through the rectum allows for a relatively constant environment for a drug to be delivered. The rate of absorption may, however, be lower than that of drugs taken by mouth.
Types of suppositories and their uses
There are three types of suppositories:
1. Rectal suppositories
Rectal suppositories go in the rectum or anus. They are typically an inch long and have a rounded tip.
They treat conditions, such as:
2. Vaginal suppositories
People may insert vaginal suppositories into the vagina to treat:
Vaginal suppositories are typically oval and come with an applicator.
3. Urethral suppositories
Men may use a type of urethral suppository to treat erection problems in rare cases.
These suppositories are the size of a grain of rice and deliver a drug called alprostadil.
How to insert a rectal suppository
Anyone using a rectal suppository may want to refer to the following steps for guidance:
1. Get prepared
2. Get ready to insert the suppository
3. Insert the suppository
4. Relax and clean up
Try to avoid passing stool for up to 60 minutes after inserting the suppository, unless it is a laxative. Not passing stool gives the medication enough time to enter the bloodstream and start working.
How to insert a vaginal suppository
To place a suppository into the vagina, follow these tips:
1. Get prepared
2. Insert the suppository
3. Relax and clean up
Risks and side effects
Suppositories are usually safe to use. Sometimes, some of the medication may leak out. To avoid a mess, people may want to wear a sanitary towel or incontinence pad.
Some people may experience irritation around the area where they inserted the suppository. If this is severe or persists, they should see a doctor.
Occasionally, the body may not absorb the medication delivered by a suppository as well as it does oral medications.
Tips and troubleshooting
The following tips may help people who need to use suppositories:
Suppositories are helpful for people who cannot take medications by mouth.
People who have difficulty using suppositories should ask their doctor for advice. They should also talk to their doctor before using suppositories if they:
Although they may be unpleasant to use, rectal, vaginal, and urethral suppositories can be an effective way of delivering medication.
Source: Medical News Today
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