How to prepare for an enema

Enemas are a natural, safe and relatively inexpensive way to cleanse the bowels. Like laxatives and colonics, enemas can be used to promote digestive heath and relieve constipation.

Though enemas can be performed safely and comfortably within the privacy of your home, there are several important steps to consider when preparing for an enema.

Decide whether you'll be performing the enema yourself or with assistance. Age and physical disabilities can make performing an enema difficult or impossible without someone to help. To prepare for your first enema, consult with your doctor to make sure you're physically capable of performing every step of the process on your own.

Learn how enemas work. Though there are several different types of enemas, they all work in the same way. A bottle, bag or can is used to contain a cleansing enema solution. Rubber tubing and a nozzle are used to transfer the solution into the bowels through the anus. There are also complete kits available, which use a squeezable plastic bottle and attached nozzle.

Decide which enema best meets your needs. Home enema kits are all-inclusive and available at your neighborhood pharmacy. Enemas done with hot water bottles or steel cans can be easier to self-administer without spilling cleansing solution, though they can be slightly more expensive.

Select a cleansing fluid to be used in your enema. Though warm water is the most common, enemas can also be performed with vinegar, coffee, shark cartilage or solutions made with wheatgrass, garlic or other herbal supplements. It's important to consider the risk of allergic reaction when preparing for an enema.

Purchase an anal lubricant to make sure the enema nozzle can be inserted comfortably and safely into the rectum. Home enema kits often include an anal lubricant. If you elect to use an enema can or water bottle, commercial lubricants such as K-Y Jelly, Astroglide or Vaseline are available at most pharmacies.

Give yourself at least an hour to complete the enema process. After expelling enema solution from your bowels, you'll have to make several return trips to clean your bowels completely.

Check with your pharmacist to get tips on which enema might be right for you. Websites that sell enema equipment can be a good source of information on which products will best meet your individual needs.