Enemas: Your Choices

Enemas: Your Choices

By Kevin Cleary

There are many reasons why we may opt to use an enema. Just as there are many reasons, there are different types of enemas, each of which contain different ingredients and works differently in the body. While some may choose an enema for routine colon cleansing, the reason for using an enema may have more of a medical necessity. Enemas have been used as part of an alternative health therapy for some time, but no matter the reason they all have basically one thing in common: cleansing.

What Exactly… Why?

Enemas are not exactly a household word. While everyone may know generally what they are, there may be misunderstandings about their benefits and how they work. An enema is a fluid injected into the lower intestines and colon via the rectum. The most common use for an enema is probably to relieve constipation or impacted stool. Those with bowel dysfunction may use an enema to deal with fecal incontinence as well as constipation. While many people use oral laxatives or suppositories, sometimes the direct use of an enema can help.

Different Enemas Work Different Ways

While the endgame (no pun intended) of all enemas are similar, the different types of enemas work differently within the body. There are some enemas that are designed for specific medical procedures (such as a barium enema) or more importantly, the relief from constipation or impacted stool. For instance, a mineral oil based enema is used to lubricate and soften the stool while helping it slide through the colon easier. They sometimes come in a prefilled squirt bottle that is easy to use and is disposable. Sodium phosphate enemas work in a different way from one that is mineral oil based. As opposed to just lubricating and softening, this type of enema draws water from the body into the colon therefore loosening impacted stool and expelling it from the body through the rectum. Sometimes just a water or saline solution enema can be enough to get relief from minor constipation. It’s very important to make sure that you use the appropriate amount of fluid or injury can occur. Below is a chart from giving examples of fluid amounts:

Fluid amounts for large volume enemas
Infant 50 to 150 ml
Toddler 250 to 350 ml
Child 300 to 500 ml
Adolescent 500 to 750 ml
Adult 750 to 1000 ml

Many people have sought out enemas as an alternative therapy. Use of a colonic to cleanse the colon has become quite popular for the removal of feces and nonspecific toxins from the colon and intestinal tract according to These enemas can have side effects, such as bloating, gas, and diarrhea not to mention electrolyte imbalance, so make sure to discuss these with your doctor or nurse before administering any kind of enema.

Choose Your Weapon

In the fight against constipation or for colon irrigation there are many options available. The Fleet Saline Laxative Enema provides a soft stool mass and increased bowel action that leads to a bowel movement within 1-5 minutes. It’s perfect for a bowel cleansing before a rectal exam. Its disposable squeeze bottle is prelubricated and should not be refilled with any other liquids. An option that utilizes mineral oil is the Fleet Mineral Oil Enema which lubricates and coats the fecal contents to prevent water from being absorbed out of the stool. It generally produces a bowel movement within 15 minutes and is ideal for those who need to avoid straining after surgery or have given birth. The Medline Enema Solutions is another prefilled, lubricated squeeze bottle that is easy to hold and ready to use. Another type is the bisacodyl enema. These kinds of enemas use the laxative bisacodyl to stimulate bowel movements. According to, these types of enemas should not be used for more than one week unless otherwise directed by your healthcare provider. The Fleet Bisacodyl Enema directly stimulates the intestines to increase rhythmic action to produce a bowel movement within 20 minutes typically. For patients that experience autonomic dysreflexia or pain from hemorrhoids, Enemeez Plus Mini Enema includes benzocaine to create a numbing sensation eliminate pain and irritation and offset the symptoms experienced with autonomic dysreflexia. This is ideal for patients with spinal cord injuries or those suffering from cerebral vascular injuries. For those that do not require benzocaine, Enemeez Mini Enema comes in a single use tube that contains docusate sodium and a medicinal soft soap base of polyethylene glycol and glycerine to help establish a more predictable bowel routine.


Not all enemas need to be in a prefilled, ready to use bottle. The Marlen Colonic Enema Set allows the user to use any type of liquid they should choose. It’s often used for safe, effective evacuation for those suffering from decreased sphincter control as well as use for a barium enema. One option that allows patients flexibility is the Medline Disposable Enema Bucket Set. It comes in a wrapped polypropylene bag that includes a bucket, tube with clamp, sterile lubricating jelly, and Castile soap packet. It’s a great one-stop shop for your enema usage. One more option is the Bard Radiopaque Rubber Colon Tube with Funnel End. This 30 inch long tube is designed for the administration of enemas (as well as certain medications) and features an open distal tip and one side eye. It does contain latex and is nonsterile while being designed for a single use. The Bard Rubber Rectal Catheter uses an inflatable balloon to maintain proper catheter position and is perfect for single use administration of enemas and other medications. This catheter is made of latex and is nonsterile. Whether you choose to use an enema for constipation or as an alternative medicine, there are plenty of options for just about everyone.