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How to Use Rectal Suppositories

How to Use Rectal Suppositories

  1. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.
  2. If the suppository is soft, hold it under cool water or place it in the refrigerator for a few minutes to harden it before removing the wrapper.
  3. Remove the wrapper, if present.
  4. If you were told to use half of the suppository, cut it lengthwise with a clean, sharp blade.
  5. Put on a finger cot or disposable glove, if desired (available at a pharmacy).
  6. Lubricate the suppository tip with a water-soluble lubricant such as K-Y Jelly, not petroleum jelly (Vaseline). If you do not have this lubricant, moisten your rectal area with cool tap water.
  7. Lie on your side with your lower leg straightened out and your upper leg bent forward toward your stomach.
  8. Lift upper buttock to expose the rectal area.
  9. Insert the suppository, pointed end first, with your finger until it passes the muscular sphincter of the rectum, about 1/2 to 1 inch (1.25 to 2.5 centimeters) in infants and 1 inch (2.5 centimeters) in adults. If not inserted past this sphincter, the suppository may pop out.
  10. Hold buttocks together for a few seconds.
  11. Remain lying down for about 15 minutes to avoid having the suppository come out.
  12. Try to avoid having a bowel movement for about an hour so that the medication in the suppository can be absorbed into the body.
  13. Discard used materials and wash your hands thoroughly.

Adapted, with permission, from the Michigan Pharmacists Association's Patient Education Program.


This report on medications is for your information only, and is not considered individual patient advice. Because of the changing nature of drug information, please consult your physician or pharmacist about specific clinical use.

The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists® represents that the information provided hereunder was formulated with a reasonable standard of care, and in conformity with professional standards in the field. The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists® makes no representations or warranties, express or implied, including, but not limited to, any implied warranty of merchantability and/or fitness for a particular purpose, with respect to such information and specifically disclaims all such warranties. Users are advised that decisions regarding drug therapy are complex medical decisions requiring the independent, informed decision of an appropriate health care professional, and the information is provided for informational purposes only. The entire monograph for a drug should be reviewed for a thorough understanding of the drug's actions, uses and side effects. The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists® does not endorse or recommend the use of any drug. The information is not a substitute for medical care.

Pronunciation Guide for Drug Names is used with permission. © 2009. The United States Pharmacopeial Convention. All Rights Reserved.

AHFS® Patient Medication Information™. © Copyright, 2020. The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists®, 4500 East-West Highway, Suite 900, Bethesda, Maryland. All Rights Reserved. Duplication for commercial use must be authorized by ASHP.

Last Reviewed: September 1, 2010.