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Fleet Enema

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Dec 2, 2022.

What is a Fleet enema?

A Fleet enema is liquid medicine used to help you have a bowel movement. You may need the enema to relieve constipation. An enema may also be used to clean out your bowel before you have a procedure or surgery. This enema is available at drugstores without a prescription. Your healthcare provider will tell you which kind to get and how often to use it.

How do I use the enema?

Follow the directions that come with the enema. The following are general steps to follow:

  • Choose a comfortable position. One position is to lie on your left side with your right knee pulled up to your chest. The other position is to kneel and put the left side of your face on the floor.
  • Gently and slowly insert the tip into your rectum. Remove the plastic cover before you insert the tip. Use a side-to-side motion as you insert the tip. It may help to push down like you are having a bowel movement. This can help relax the muscles and make it easier to insert the tip. Do not force the tip into your rectum. The force may damage your rectum.
  • Squeeze the bottle to push the liquid into your rectum. You do not need to squeeze all of the liquid into your rectum. Squeeze until you have a feeling of fullness in the area.
  • Stay in the same position until you feel the urge to have a bowel movement. This usually takes 1 to 5 minutes. If you do not feel the urge within 5 minutes, try to have a bowel movement. Do not use another enema if you do not have a bowel movement within 5 minutes. Contact your healthcare provider for instructions.

What safety precautions do I need to take?

  • Ask your healthcare provider how often to use enemas. Do not use more than 1 enema in 24 hours. Do not use enemas for longer than 3 days unless directed by your healthcare provider. Too many enemas can cause problems with your calcium levels or an electrolyte imbalance. They can also cause your body to become dependent on enemas in order to have a bowel movement. Your rectum may also become irritated.
  • Tell your healthcare provider about all your health conditions. Tell him or her if you have kidney or heart disease, or you have problems with dehydration. Tell him or her if you are on a low-sodium diet.
  • Drink extra water as directed. Extra water will help prevent dehydration. Ask your healthcare provider how much extra water to drink. Follow your healthcare provider's instructions if you have kidney or heart problems, or you are on a low-sodium diet. Your provider may need to help you balance your fluid levels.
  • Tell your healthcare provider if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Do not use the enema unless your healthcare provider says it is okay.
  • Talk to your child's healthcare provider about enemas. Do not use an enema on a child younger than 2 years. For children 3 to 11 years old, use an enema made for children. Children 12 years or older may use the adult enema.

When should I seek immediate care?

  • You are bleeding from your rectum.
  • You have severe abdominal pain.
  • No liquid or bowel movement comes out of your rectum within 30 minutes after you use the enema.

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • You do not have a bowel movement within 5 minutes of using the enema.
  • You have symptoms of dehydration, such as dizziness, urinating little or not at all, or feeling thirsty.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.