What to know about enemas


An enema involves inserting fluid into the rectum, which is the lower part of the large intestine. The aim 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 contain 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 colon contents to leak into the body.

Using very hot or cold liquid: 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 don’t use an enema too often.

Things for you to remember

Each enema kit is a little different and should come with clear instructions. Reading these instructions carefully can help ensure that your enema is safe and effective.

Be sure to plan enough time for the enema to work and rest afterward if necessary. 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 relieve discomfort during insertion.

Enema Instructions

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

Choose a quiet spot with space to lie down, ideally a bathroom, and have towels, a timer, and the 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 the left side of your body if you are right-handed or on the right side of your body if you are left-handed.

Bend the knee of the upper leg and place a rolled towel under the knee to support it.

Remove the cap from the enema mouthpiece.

Gently insert the tip of the mouthpiece 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 give a more specific estimate.

Go to the bathroom as usual to empty your bowels.


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


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


– Sanitize your hands.
– Prepare the material.
– Dress appropriately.
– 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 mobile and waterproof 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 intermediate and probe.
– Lubricate the probe with xylocaine gel.
– Keep the patient in the SIMS position, move the intergluteal fold away, ask the patient to breathe deeply and introduce the probe about 6 to 10 cm. In case of resistance, do not force the insertion of the probe.
– Let the solution run slowly, as the rapid introduction of the solution can cause an increase in 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 for better effect.
– Depending on the clinical conditions, put on a diaper, offer a bedpan or send the patient to the bathroom, after which the contents are examined.
– When only the fleet-enema or glycerin enema (ready solutions) is 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 up the solutions.
– Forward the material to the appropriate destination.
– Wash hands.
– Carry out the registration of the characteristics of the eliminations.


– Trauma (bleeding)
– Colic

Injury prevention:
– Follow technical procedure
– Caution
-heat solution

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

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


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

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