We Know: All About How Enemas Work

What is an enema?

An enema is a medical treatment wherein your bowels are flushed of waste through the insertion of liquid into the rectum. Enemas are typically used to clean the bowels, to administer medication or as a prerequisite to a screening test or other diagnostic procedure.

Why do people use enemas?

  • Constipation: Moderate to severe constipation can be relieved through the use of an enema which flushes out the contents of the bowel.
  • Fecal Impaction: This could be considered very severe constipation in a way, as it occurs when the feces becomes compacted and impacted within the bowel to an extent where laxatives will not help. Using an enema can clear up the problem.
  • Cleansing: Some people use enemas to clean out their bowel. You should not practice using enemas on a regular basis as doing so can make your bowel dependent on the enema for a bowel movement.
  • Preparation for Surgery: If you will be undergoing abdominal surgery, an exploratory procedure like a colonoscopy or will be giving birth, you are often required to have an enema.

How do enemas work?

Enemas work by filling the rectum with water or some type of solution in order to loosen and hydrate the stool, which is then passed from the body.

How do I use an enema?

Note: Never use an enema without your doctor's consent, if you have abdominal pain or inserting the enema is painful or difficult. General instructions for giving an enema include these steps:

  • Step 1: Take the enema bottle and remove the cap.
  • Step 2: Insert the tip or nozzle of the enema bottle into the anus. Maintain slight pressure as you do so, but never force it.
  • Step 3: Squeeze out the contents of the enema bottle into the rectum slowly. Most of the solution in the bottle should be used.
  • Step 4: Once the solution is inserted, wait between 5-10 minutes and then attempt a bowel movement. You should definitely feel the urge to go during this time, but waiting helps the solution to soften the stool and thoroughly cleanse the bowel.


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