We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Are the Different Types of Enemas?

By Amanda Barnhart
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGEEK is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGEEK, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

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. The most common types are water, mineral oil, sodium phosphate, and barium enemas.

Home 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. Water, in fact, may be all that is needed to relieve minor constipation.

Other home 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 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 kits are meant to be disposable and should not be reused with another solution.

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 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 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.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

By ZipLine — On Jan 20, 2014

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.

By fBoyle — On Jan 19, 2014

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.

By candyquilt — On Jan 19, 2014

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.

WiseGEEK, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGEEK, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.