How to Do an Enema at Home and Its Risks

Anal enemas are more common than you might think; however, they do have their precautions to consider. Learn how to do an enema at home the right way.
How to Do an Enema at Home and Its Risks
Leidy Mora Molina

Reviewed and approved by the nurse Leidy Mora Molina.

Last update: 03 March, 2023

For a variety of reasons, some people must perform an enema at home to help cleanse the rectum of fecal matter. This is part of the preparation for some medical procedures, as a method to relieve constipation or as a cleansing step before having anal sex.

In general, it’s a common and recurrent practice, but one that is still little talked about because it’s considered taboo. Read on and learn all you need to know about how to do an enema at home.

What is an enema?

Also known as an anal douche or colon cleansing, an enema is a procedure in which large amounts of pressurized water go into the anus through a tube or bulb. The liquid then comes out, along with the fecal matter, until it comes out clear. At that point, the rectum, colon, and part of the small intestines get clean.

According to information from the Mayo Clinic, there are those who support that the use of enemas can help detoxify the body, increase energy, and improve the immune system. However, there’s no medical evidence to support these benefits.

However, enemas can be a good method to help combat constipation, as they help relieve discomfort and make it easier to pass stool. This is a recommended procedure for chronically constipated people, although it can’t be repeated too often, as the body tends to get used to it and normal peristalsis may slow down.

The types of enema

Enemas can be classified into two main categories, according to their purpose. Some are for home use, while others are exclusively for professional use.

It all depends on what and how you’ll use them. Learn to differentiate them in a simple way and to know for which situation it is advisable to use each one of them.

Constipación que será tratada con enema casero.
Enemas can help alleviate constipation, but the underlying causes should always be addressed in order to establish an appropriate treatment.

1. Cleansing enemas

Also called evacuating enemas, they are the most frequent and common type of anal enemas. This is a type of enema that can be performed without problems at home.

They are administered in order to clean the colon, rectum, and part of the intestines of fecal matter that may be found there. Pure water or saline solutions are usually used in this type of enema.

Cleansing enemas are recommended in cases of constipation, to obtain stool samples, before a radiological examination of the rectum, or as a method of preparation for anal intercourse. Generally, the liquid stays in for 2 to 3 minutes before it completely comes out, and you repeat the procedure until the water comes out clear and clean.

2. Retention enemas

The difference between the cleansing enema and the retention enema is that in the former, the patient evacuates the water almost immediately, while in the latter, the liquid must be retained for a period of fewer than 30 minutes. In this type of enema, medications are usually administered into the rectum mixed with water when they can’t be administered orally.

In addition to medicines, introduce nutritional substances. So, in both situations, perform the retention enema professionally to be sure that the doses are correct.

Before performing the retention enema, a cleansing enema should be performed. This is so that the medications given reach the bloodstream quickly.

How to do an enema at home correctly

Each person may have their own particular way of performing an enema at home. This may range from the instrument you will use for the enema to the pose that is most comfortable for you.

Here are some general recommendations to perform a home enema easily and safely for the first time:

  1. Choose the proper tool: You should have a pharmacy enema or the anal bulb with which you will perform the cleansing ready on hand and previously disinfected.
  2. Fill it with warm water: Remember to take care of the temperature. You don’t want to generate an abrupt or uncomfortable change once the liquid enters the body.
  3. Lubricate the plastic tip: With the help of petroleum jelly or a lubricant, grease the tip of the tool with which you will perform the enema to facilitate its entry.
  4. Get into a comfortable position: Some of the most recommended positions are lying on your side with your legs bent, lying on your back with your legs toward your chest, or squatting.
  5. Gently insert the tip: Gently insert the tip of the enema or bulb into the anus, being very careful not to generate aggressive movements.
  6. Open or press the tool: If it is a pharmacy enema, hang it 90 centimeters above the floor, turn on your side, or face up and open the faucet to allow the water to enter. If you use a bulb, the most comfortable is to squat down and press it gently.
  7. Wait a couple of minutes: Stay in the chosen position and try to hold the water. Wait until you feel like evacuating.
  8. Repeat the flushing: Repeat the enema 3 to 4 times until the water comes out clear and clean. Remember not to introduce more than 250 milliliters of water per enema.
Pera para enema en casa.
Pears for home enemas are almost always available in a standard size.

The risks and precautions when performing an enema at home

Enemas are a helpful procedure, and you can perform them in the comfort of your home. However, don’t overdo it. Excessive use can have health repercussions that end up damaging the intestinal flora.

Here are some precautions to get the most out of enemas and not run unnecessary risks:

  • Avoid coffee or soapy water enemas. They irritate the bowel and can cause abdominal pain and discomfort.
  • Enemas are not suitable for situations where it’s dangerous to increase intestinal peristalsis or natural bowel movements. Appendicitis or intestinal perforation, for example.
  • Enemas can be harmful in patients with hydroelectrolytic imbalance. For example, this may be the case if there’s renal insufficiency.
  • In some people, a poorly performed enema may cause nausea, abdominal pain, proctitis, or anal itching.

Doing an enema at home is a serious task

After knowing the benefits and precautions of enemas, make sure to be extremely careful when performing them to lessen the risk. Remember not to abuse them and only use them when necessary.

If the main problem is constipation, look for natural alternatives first, and then consider doing an enema if necessary. Consult your doctor if constipation lasts more than a week.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.