Side effects of suppositories

Suppositories may be inserted into the body through the rectum, the vagina, or the urethra to deliver medications such as laxatives, antibiotics and fever-reducers. The use of suppositories, as with any medication, carries the potential for side effects.

Some side effects of suppositories may be more severe than others. Side effects of suppositories are rarely serious and usually disappear when the body become accustomed to the ingredient of the suppository or after the suppositories are no longer needed.

Rectal Burning and Itching

Using rectal suppositories for the treatment of constipation, haemorrhoids and reduction of a fever may cause anorectal burning if suppositories are used for more three days. Reduce the severity of anorectal burning and rectal itching by ensuring that the anus is properly lubricated with a water-based lubricant such as K-Y gel before inserting the suppository into the rectum.

Vaginal Burning and itching

Treating vaginal conditions such as yeast infections with vaginal suppositories may cause vaginal burning, vaginal itching and vaginal dryness. Vaginal irritations caused by vaginal suppositories may be temporary as the body becomes adjusted to the active ingredient in the vaginal suppository. Use a water-soluble personal lubricant such as K-Y gel before inserting the suppository into the vagina.

Stomach Cramps

Treating constipation with laxative suppositories containing glycerine or bisacodyl may cause stomach cramps as the suppository melts inside the rectum to loosen constipated and hardened fecal matter. Lie down on a bed or sofa to alleviate cramping and faintness during the use of a laxative suppository. Consult with your doctor should you notice more severe side effects of using laxative suppositories, such as skin rash, difficulty breathing, tightness in the chest and swelling of the mouth, face or lips.


Using rectal suppositories, particularly those designed for the treatment of constipation, may cause excessive flatulence in terms of the frequency of flatulence and the intensity of the smell of flatulence. Avoid passing gas during the later stages of the melting of a rectal suppository as this may lead to an excessive and embarrassing accidental bowel movement.


Soiling of the clothes is common as a suppository begins to melt. As the suppository begins to melt, leakage of stool or other bodily fluids may soil the underwear. Use a panty-liner or wear an adult diaper instead of underwear to prevent ruining of underwear during the use of suppositories


Using laxative suppositories for more than one week may cause diarrhoea, which can lead to dehydration. Consult your doctor if you need to use a laxative suppository for more than one week. Ensure that you drink enough fluids during the use of laxative suppositories to avoid dehydration.


Be sure to insert the suppository high enough in the body, such as in the rectum or the vagina, so that it doesn't slip out. Squeeze the anal opening or the vaginal opening tightly closed for a one minute after insertion to ensure proper depth of insertion of the suppository.