Should You Try an Enema for Constipation?

enema for constipation

You’ve been lectured about all the usual solutions to clear out your colon: drinking coffee, taking laxatives or stool softeners, eating more fiber, staying hydrated, the list goes on. But if you’ve been plugged up for days and still can’t manage to start the fudge shuttle, it might be time to bring out the big guns: the enema.

For those who haven’t wandered down that aisle at the drugstore, an enema involves squirting fluid up your butthole to trigger a bowel movement. Enemas are a standard protocol to prepare your bowels for a procedure like a colonoscopy. Butt they can also come in handy to dislodge a lump of hard, dry stool.

Keep reading to learn how enemas work, whether they can cure severe constipation, how to give yourself one, and safety precautions to keep in mind.

What Is an Enema?

An enema involves injecting fluids into your butt to stimulate a bowel movement or administer medication. Typically, the fluid goes in a bag on one side of the tube. Then the other side of the tube gets lubed up and placed into the rectum.

There are a bunch of different types of enemas:

  1. Saline enemas: Also known as “fleet” enemas. These have salt water that pulls fluid into your colon to get things moving.
  2. Glycerin enemas: Glycerin draws water into your intestines to stimulate muscle contractions, working much like a saline enema.
  3. Phosphate solution enemas: Phosphate does the same thing as saline and glycerin, drawing water into your intestine to break up the hard stuff.
  4. Mineral oil enemas: Mineral oil is slippery, making it easier to pass large or painful stools.
  5. Bisacodyl enemas: Contains an ingredient that helps your colon push things along, but might cause some cramping.
  6. Castile soap enemas: Mild soap in the enema helps your intestines contract and pass stool.
  7. Coffee enemas: This is basically butt-chugging coffee to make yourself poop.

Enemas for Constipation: Do They Work?

An enemas can definitely clear out your colon to relieve constipation or fecal impaction, although they’re often a last-ditch effort. Enemas can give you the urge to poop fast—sometimes in as little as 15 minutes.

Bottom line: If you commit to an enema, make sure there’s a toilet nearby.

Full disclosure: Doctors haven’t done a ton of research into exactly how effective enemas are for constipation, and a lot of the “evidence” is anecdotal. Some studies suggest that enemas produce the best results when administered by a medical professional, rather than self-administered in your own bathroom.

We stumbled on a lengthy discussion in r/Constipation about enemas, where poopers have seen positive results.

“Enemas usually clear me out when nothing else works,” said one user.

“The longer you can hold the enema liquid, the better the results will be,” said another. “For some reason, I have real problems holding one in. I do know that the few times I have managed to keep it in for 5 minutes, the results have been impressive.”

How to Give Yourself an Enema for Constipation

Here’s how to give yourself an at-home enema. Pro tip: Don’t eat for at least 30 minutes before getting down to business, as this can trigger some extra-explosive results.

  1. Get hydrated: Drink a couple of glasses of water before you do the deed. You’ll need the extra hydration if you lose extra fluid when you take a massive dump.
  2. Wash your hands: You don’t want grubby fingers down below
  3. Lay down: While flat on your back, pull your knees up toward your chest. You can also rest on your side in a fetal position. Either way, make sure you’re close to a bathroom.
  4. Lube up: Some enemas have a lubricant on the tip. But if not, apply some petroleum jelly to your b-hole before you insert the tip of the enema.
  5. Insert the enema: Gently slide the tip of the enema into your butt and squeeze the enema to insert the fluid. Try to stay relaxed (easier said than done). This will make it easier to insert the fluid.
  6. Hold the fluid in your rectum: Try to hold the enema solution in your rectum for 5-10 minutes. You might feel an instant urge to poop, but you need to wait a bit for the fluid to do its job.
  7. Take a dump: After 5 to 10 minutes, get on the toilet and let it rip. Ideally, this will result in a big deuce, but you may need to take several more trips to the can throughout the day.

How Long Does It Take for an Enema to Work for Constipation?

Most enemas will relieve constipation within an hour, but they can also make you poop in as little as 15 minutes. It all depends on how plugged up you are down there and the type of enema you use.

If you still can’t squeeze out any stool after using an enema, it might be time to talk to a gastroenterologist. They can give you a professional enema or hook you up with an alternative treatment option.

An enema might seem like a no-brainer, since it works a lot faster than other types of laxatives. But a lot of docs recommend only using them when absolutely necessary since there are some health risks (more on that later).

Are Enemas Safe?

Over-the-counter enemas are generally safe to use if you follow the instructions. That said, talk to your doctor before you try an enema if you have a history of colorectal issues, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), bowel obstruction, or a weakened immune system.

Here are a few potential side effects of giving yourself an enema:

  • Rectal pain: It’s normal to have some mild discomfort in your butt after inserting the enema
  • Dehydration: Having loose, watery stools can deplete your fluid levels
  • Vagal response: This is an automatic response that leads to a drop in heart rate and blood pressure, potentially causing dizziness, lightheadedness, or nausea.

It’s also possible to experience a bowel perforation (a tear in the lining of the intestine) or an infection, although these are much more rare.

Keep DUDE Wipes On Deck

A post-enema poop is destined to be big, sloppy, and explosive. The last thing you should use to clean up the aftermath is a square of dry, flimsy TP. Smearing your anus with sandpaper? We’re not living in the stone age, DUDE.

Do your ass a favor and get a pack of DUDE Wipes when you’re at the store buying an enema kit. They’re infused with aloe and vitamin E to soothe your sensitive sides after you commit a war crime on the can.

Reading next

swamp ass
why does alcohol make you pee