How Long Does It Take For An Enema To Work?

An enema is a last-resort intervention for people experiencing constipation. The goal is to help relieve the condition and restore regular bowel activity (via Healthline). It can also be used as a tool to empty the colon before a medical procedure. There are a number of different types of enemas, but they all generally involve inserting fluid into the rectum to stimulate a bowel movement (via WebMD). These fluids can range from saline solution to a phosphate solution, glycerin, and in some cases, even coffee. However, it should be noted that, according to a 2020 study published in Medicine, coffee enemas are not recommended.

According to Healthgrades, you can give yourself an enema at home, using either a store-bought enema kit or by purchasing the necessary supplies to make your own. For diagnostic enemas before a procedure or test, you can have them administered at a doctor's office by a healthcare professional. In either situation, patients are often eager to know what kind of timetable they'll be looking at before things start returning to normal.

Timing can vary, but be prepared

MedicalNewsToday notes that most enema users will see results within an hour of administration, but you can feel the effects within the first five minutes. If performing an enema at home, you should allow yourself ample time to let the enema work and stay close to the bathroom until you feel you have completely evacuated. Additionally, you should avoid eating for at least 30 minutes prior to administering the enema.

Although enemas can be useful tools to clean out the bowel or relieve constipation, caution should still be taken when considering using one (via Healthline). Enema usage can disrupt your gut bacteria and your body's electrolytes. Additionally, a 2004 case report published in the Malaysian Journal of Pathology showed that excessive flushing out of the colon can lead to dehydration. Certain enemas can also lead to dangerous inflammation of the rectum and colon, as shown in a 2020 case report in the American College of Gastroenterology. In general, before having an enema performed, you should talk to your doctor to learn the risks and take the proper precautions.