What to know about enemas


An enema involves inserting liquid into the rectum, which is the lower part of the large intestine. The purpose is to empty the bowels, allow for an examination, or administer medication.

An enema can be effective in treating certain medical conditions, but regular use of the enema can cause serious health problems.

Because of the risks involved, a person should only use an enema for medical reasons.

In this article, we find out more about enemas and how to use them safely.

A medical professional can do an enema, or a person can use one at home.

Many pharmacies sell enema kits, and these are also available online. Choose one that a healthcare professional has recommended.

A kit usually includes a bag or other type of container attached to a tube or mouthpiece. This container contains a liquid, which may contain an oil or laxative.

How to use the enema

Anyone with enough flexibility in their arms and shoulders to reach them should be able to use an enema at home.

Risks when using an enema

Using too much liquid: In this case, the body may hold some liquid and release it without warning.

Bowel Stretching: Increases the chance of perforation, which is a risk when the lining of the colon is torn. It can cause the contents of the colon to leak into the body.

Using liquid that is too hot or too cold: this can cause discomfort or pain. The liquid in an enema should be at room temperature.

Use the recommended amount of liquid at room temperature and do not use an enema too often.

things for you to remember

Every enema kit is a little different and should come with clear instructions. Carefully reading these instructions can help ensure that using the enema is safe and effective.

Be sure to plan enough time for the enema to work and rest afterwards if needed. Doctors generally recommend having access to a bathroom for 1 hour after using an enema.

An enema can be uncomfortable, but it shouldn’t be painful. If there is pain, stop and seek medical advice. The use of petroleum jelly can alleviate discomfort during insertion.

enema instructions

Instructions for each enema kit are different, but most follow these general steps:

Choose a quiet spot with room to lie down, ideally a bathroom, and have towels, a timer and enema kit ready.

Remove all clothing from the lower half of the body.

Wash your hands with soap and hot water and dry them well.

Place a towel on the floor and lie on your left side if you are right-handed or on your right side if you are left-handed.

Bend the knee of the top leg and place a rolled towel under the knee for support.

Remove the cap from the enema mouthpiece.

Gently insert the nozzle tip into the anus and continue to insert 10 centimeters (3 to 4 inches) into the rectum.

Slowly squeeze the liquid out of the container until it is empty, then carefully remove the mouthpiece from the rectum.

Wait for the enema to take effect. This can take anywhere from 2 minutes to 1 hour, and the kit instructions should provide a more specific estimate.

Go to the bathroom as usual to empty your bowels.


Enema or intestinal lavage is the instillation of a large volume of water, laxative solution and/or medicine into the rectum, usually through an irrigator.


– Glycerin solution in vial or fleet enema
– rectal probe
– Xylocaine gel
– Gauze
– Procedure gloves
– Bedpan
– Serum support
– Irrigator
– Latex Intermediate
– Movable and waterproof sheet
– Kocher tweezers


– Sanitize your hands.
– Prepare the material.
– Dress properly.
– Explain to the patient/family the risks/benefits and objectives of the procedure.
– Place the patient in the left lateral decubitus position, protecting the bed with a movable and impermeable sheet.
– Adapt the irrigator to the latex intermediate (in the case of intestinal lavage) and hang it on the serum support, connecting its tip to the rectal probe.
– Clamp the latex intermediate and fill the irrigator with the prescribed solution.
– Remove the air from the latex abutment and probe.
– Lubricate the probe with xylocaine gel.
– Keep the patient in the SIMS position, spread the intergluteal fold apart, ask the patient to take a deep breath and introduce the tube about 6 to 10 cm. In case of resistance, do not force the insertion of the tube.
– Let the solution flow out slowly, as the rapid introduction of the solution can cause increased peristalsis, making it difficult to retain it.
– Ask the patient to remain in this position for as long as they can to retain the solution, then move to other positions to obtain a better effect.
– According to clinical conditions, put on the diaper, offer the bedpan or send the patient to the bathroom, examining the eliminated content afterwards.
– When only fleet-enema or glycerin enema (ready-made solutions) are requested, the same routine is followed, in which case only the contents of the vial are administered all at once. It may be necessary to warm the solutions.
– Forward the material to the appropriate destination.
– Wash hands.
– Register the characteristics of the eliminations.


– Trauma (bleeding)
– Colic

Prevention of aggravation:
– Follow technical procedure
– Caution
-warm up solution

Treatment of non-compliance:
– Communicate the complications to the nurse or doctor and make the necessary records
– Ensure treatment of injuries and care for the family

Additional Notes/Recommendations:
– Always wear PPE
– Carry out the necessary records after the procedures
– Keep the place in order


SÃO PAULO REGIONAL NURSING COUNCIL. Opinion COREN-SP CAT nº 032/2010. Intestinal lavage. São Paulo, 2010.
MOTTA, ALC Norms, routines and nursing techniques. São Paulo: Latia, 2003.
PRADO, ML; GELBCKE, FL Foundations for professional nursing care. Florianópolis: Future City, 2013.

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