Suppositories offer an alternative method for administering medication to the body when oral routes are not feasible.

These formulations come in small shapes such as round, oval, or cone-like, typically surrounded by substances like cocoa butter or gelatin. Once inserted into the body, the suppository dissolves gradually, releasing the medication.

They can target specific local areas or distribute the medication throughout the body via the bloodstream.

One common application of suppositories is in relieving occasional constipation. Glycerin, categorized as a hyperosmotic laxative, is often utilized for this purpose. Its mechanism involves drawing water into the intestines, usually resulting in a bowel movement within 15 to 60 minutes.

Normal bowel movement frequency varies among adults, ranging from once daily to 1 to 2 times weekly. For preschool-aged children, the frequency ranges from once daily to once every other day. Managing constipation is ideally achieved through adequate fluid intake, consumption of fiber-rich foods, and regular physical activity.

Why use suppositories?

Suppositories serve as a method of administering various types of medication, particularly necessary when individuals:

  • Experience seizures and are unable to ingest medications orally.
  • Encounter difficulties swallowing medication due to any cause.
  • Suffer from vomiting episodes, preventing them from retaining pills or liquids.
  • Face obstructions hindering the passage of medication through the digestive system.

Additionally, individuals might opt for suppositories if:

  • The taste of the medication is intolerable for oral consumption.
  • The medication would degrade rapidly within the gastrointestinal tract.
  • There's a risk of the medication being broken down or destroyed in the digestive system.

Research indicates that rectal administration of medications provides a relatively stable environment for drug delivery. However, the absorption rate may be slower compared to medications taken orally.

Types of suppositories and their uses

Rectal suppositories

Rectal suppositories are designed to be inserted into the rectum or anus, usually measuring about an inch in length with a rounded tip.

They are commonly utilized to address various conditions, including:

  • Constipation
  • Fever
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Mental health disorders such as anxiety, schizophrenia, or bipolar disorder
  • Nausea, including motion sickness
  • Pain

Vaginal suppositories

Individuals may utilize vaginal suppositories, inserted into the vagina, to address conditions such as:

  • Bacterial or fungal infections
  • Vaginal dryness

These suppositories are usually oval-shaped and are accompanied by an applicator for insertion.

Urethral suppositories

In rare cases, men may employ a type of urethral suppository to manage erection problems. These suppositories, approximately the size of a grain of rice, administer a medication known as alprostadil.

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Pros and Cons of suppository


  • Alternative Route
  • Rapid Absorption
  • Localized Treatment
  • Stability


  • Messiness
  • Inconvenience
  • Irritation
  • Limited Absorption

Differences Between suppository and oxycodone


Suppositories are used for various purposes including localized treatment of conditions such as constipation, hemorrhoids, vaginal infections, and for systemic drug delivery in cases where oral intake is not feasible.


Oxycodone is a potent opioid analgesic primarily used to relieve moderate to severe pain, such as that experienced after surgery or due to certain medical conditions.

Alternative to suppository

Oral Medications:

Many medications available in suppository form also come in oral formulations such as tablets, capsules, or liquid suspensions. Oral medications are often preferred due to their ease of administration and convenience.

How to insert a rectal suppository

Get prepared

Attempt to have a bowel movement to clear the colon, as suppository medication works best when the bowel is empty.

Thoroughly wash hands with soap and warm water or utilize hand sanitizer. Dry hands completely using a clean towel or paper towel.

Gently take the suppository out of its packaging. If needed, use a clean, single-edge razor blade to cut the suppository lengthwise.

You may choose to wear a disposable glove for added cleanliness.

Get ready to insert the suppository

Moisten the tip of the suppository with water or apply a small amount of water-based lubricant, like K-Y Jelly, which can be purchased online. The lubricant facilitates smoother insertion of the suppository into the rectum.

Remove clothing from the lower half of the body.

Assume the appropriate position. Either stand with one foot on a chair or lie down on one side with the top leg slightly bent towards the stomach. Caregivers administering the suppository to another individual often find it more convenient if the person is lying down.

Insert the suppository

Relax the muscles of the buttocks and gently separate the cheeks.

Insert the suppository into the anus, narrow end first.

For adults, push it in approximately 1 inch, and for infants, about half an inch.

In older children, insert the suppository approximately half to one inch, depending on their size.

Relax and clean up

Remain seated or lying down quietly for approximately 10 minutes following the insertion of the suppository. This stillness allows the suppository adequate time to dissolve within the body. Parents may need to gently hold a child's buttocks closed during this period.

Dispose of all materials used, including the suppository wrapper and any tissue paper.

Thoroughly wash hands with soap and warm water.

Attempt to refrain from passing stool for up to 60 minutes after inserting the suppository, unless it is a laxative. By refraining from bowel movements, the medication is given ample time to enter the bloodstream and initiate its effects.

How to insert a vaginal suppository

Get prepared

Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water. Alternatively, use a hand sanitizer if soap and water are not accessible. Dry your hands completely on a clean towel or paper towel.

Unwrap the suppository and insert it into the provided applicator.

Assume either a standing position with knees bent and feet apart, or lie down with knees bent toward the chest.

Insert the suppository

Insert the applicator into the vagina as deeply as possible without causing discomfort.

Depress the plunger to administer the suppository.

Withdraw the applicator from the vagina and discard it appropriately.

Relax and clean up

  • Lie down for approximately 10 minutes to facilitate the absorption of the medicine into the body.
  • Re-wash your hands with soap and warm water.
  • Consider using a sanitary towel for several hours, as some of the suppository may leak onto the underwear.

How to insert a urethral suppository

To place a suppository into the urethra try the following tips:

Get prepared

  • Empty the bladder before proceeding.
  • Wash your hands with soap and warm water, or use a hand sanitizer. Ensure your hands are thoroughly dried on a clean towel or paper towel.
  • Remove the applicator cover once your hands are clean.

Insert the suppository

  • Stretch out the penis to widen the urethra.
  • Insert the applicator into the opening at the tip of the penis.
  • Depress the button on the applicator and hold for 5 seconds.
  • Gently maneuver the applicator from side to side to ensure the suppository has entered the urethra.
  • Remove the applicator carefully.

Relax and clean up

  • Massage the stretched penis firmly for 10 to 15 seconds to facilitate the absorption of the medication.
  • Dispose of the applicator and any other materials used.
  • Wash your hands once more with soap and warm water.

Risks and side effects

Suppositories are generally considered safe for use, though occasionally some of the medication may leak out. To prevent mess, individuals may opt to wear a sanitary towel or incontinence pad.

In some cases, individuals may experience irritation around the insertion site of the suppository. If this irritation is severe or persists, it is advisable to consult a doctor.

It's worth noting that on occasion, the body may not absorb medication delivered via a suppository as effectively as it does with oral medications.

Tips and troubleshooting

Here are some tips for individuals who need to use suppositories:

  • Refrain from exercising or engaging in vigorous movement for at least 60 minutes after inserting the medication.
  • Avoid using petroleum jelly like Vaseline to lubricate the suppository, as it impedes melting. Use water or a water-based lubricant instead.
  • Store suppositories in the refrigerator or another cool place to prevent melting, adhering to the storage directions on the label.
  • A soft suppository may be challenging to insert. Gently squeeze it to assess firmness. If necessary, harden the wrapped suppository by running it under cold water or placing it in the refrigerator for a few minutes.
  • Trim fingernails before inserting suppositories to prevent cuts or scrapes, or alternatively, wear a latex glove.
  • Some individuals may find that the suppository falls out due to inadequate insertion depth. Ensure the medication is pushed in about 1 inch into the rectum.
  • Those encountering difficulties with suppository use might consider seeking assistance from a partner or caregiver.
  • Similar to other medications, it's important to avoid missing doses, as doing so may diminish the treatment's effectiveness.


suppositories serve as effective means of delivering medication for various conditions when oral administration is not feasible. Understanding proper insertion techniques, storage guidelines, and potential challenges can enhance the efficacy and comfort of suppository use. By following recommended practices and seeking assistance as needed, individuals can optimize their treatment outcomes while minimizing discomfort and inconvenience associated with suppository medication.

As with any medication regimen, adherence to prescribed dosing schedules is paramount for achieving desired therapeutic effects. Overall, with awareness and proper management, suppositories can provide valuable relief and contribute to improved health and well-being.

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