What Are the Different Types of Enemas?

A reusable enema kit.
Epsom salt, which can be used to make an enema.
Using an enema too frequently can damage the rectum and colon, and is thus not advised.
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  • Written By: Amanda Barnhart
  • Edited By: Allegra J. Lingo
  • Last Modified Date: 29 July 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
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Enemas are typically used to relieve constipation, cleanse the rectum and colon, and perform diagnostic tests involving the colon and gastrointestinal tract. While they all involve a liquid solution that is introduced into the rectum, the method of delivery and the exact substance used vary depending on the reason for the enema. The most common types are water, mineral oil, sodium phosphate, and barium enemas.

Home enema kits can be purchased over-the-counter at most pharmacies and drugstores. Using a home enema with a bulb or squeeze bottle filled with warm water widens the rectum, which encourages the colon to contract and expel the water and fecal matter. A water enema may be all that is needed to relieve minor constipation.

Other home enema kits come pre-filled with solutions that help relieve more severe constipation. Mineral oil enemas lubricate the rectum and help soften impacted stool to help it slide through the colon easier. Sodium phosphate enemas work by stimulating water in the body to be drawn into the colon, helping to force impacted fecal matter out through the rectum. These types of enemas are among the most powerful home solutions to relieve constipation, and they are also often administered prior to medical procedures and tests performed in the rectum or colon to clear the area for examination. Pre-filled enemas are meant to be disposable and should not be reused with another solution.

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A barium enema is given by a medical professional to prepare for an x-ray image of the large intestine. Single-contrast barium enemas involve a barium solution, acting as a contrast agent, that is introduced into the rectum via an enema to help the large intestine show up clearly on the x-ray film. A double-contrast barium enema includes the barium solution and also pushes air into the rectum to expand the colon to allow for a better picture.

Using an enema too frequently can damage the rectum and colon, so they should be kept for occasional use. Some people use enemas filled with other substances, such as coffee, apple cider vinegar, and soapy water, to cleanse the rectum and detoxify the body. Some individuals have reported positive results using these solutions as an alternative form of medicine, but they are not recommended by many health care professionals because of the risk of damage to the rectum and anal area.

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Discuss this Article

ZipLine
Post 3

The only enema recipe I have used is a soap enema. It's just castille soap and water. I haven't tried anything else because this is a mild enema and it works fine.

fBoyle
Post 2

I had to use an over-the-counter enema once. I'm not usually constipated but experienced constipation recently after a back injury. I don't know if my bowels decided to stop working because of the pain or if it was a side effect of pain relieving injections. All I know is that the last thing I wanted to deal with at that time was constipation. So I ended up buying an over-the-counter enema. I actually use a glycerin suppository first, but it didn't work.

The enema had glycerin as well, but it also had a medication it to make my bowels cramp and work. I didn't have high expectations from the product but it actually worked amazingly well. I felt cramps within minutes of use and had a bowel movement after ten minutes. So I recommend this type of enema for those in a similar situation. It's definitely not something you want to use regularly, because it's medicated. But it's great for rare emergency situations.

candyquilt
Post 1

I like homemade enemas and coffee enema is my favorite type. Coffee enema works fast and it has great detoxification effects.

The first few coffee enemas can be tiring because it releases toxins from the body. So there is some fatigue. After about the third enema however, detoxification is complete and the enema is very energizing.

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