What is a Water Enema?

Tracey Parece

A water enema is commonly used for cleansing the colon, removing toxins, or relieving occasional constipation. Water is introduced into the rectum by way of the anus to produce a bowel movement. Administering this type of enema is a relatively simple procedure that can usually be performed on oneself.

Water enemas should not be used to produce a bowel movement for more than seven to ten consecutive days.
Water enemas should not be used to produce a bowel movement for more than seven to ten consecutive days.

When performing a home enema, it typically is important to consider water temperature. For comfort, many people find that a warm-water enema is easier to hold for the length of time necessary to produce a bowel movement. Alternatively, cool water may be used when attempting to dislodge stuck fecal matter from the colon. Although the water may be as cold as the user finds tolerable, extreme caution must be taken to ensure that the water is never hot enough to burn or scald the colon.

A lubricant can be used to increase comfort when using an enema.
A lubricant can be used to increase comfort when using an enema.

These enemas should be used only when necessary and not overused or abused — the overuse of enemas can result in addiction. Enema addiction is a condition where the body becomes so dependent on enemas to void the bowels that a bowel movement becomes unlikely, or even impossible, without the procedure. Generally, it is not recommended for a person to use water enemas for more than seven to ten consecutive days to avoid dependence on enemas to produce a bowel movement.

A reusable enema kit.
A reusable enema kit.

Enema supplies needed for this procedure include an enema bag, enema tube, enema nozzle, tube clamp, and water. The enema bag holds all the liquid needed for the procedure. An enema tube connects the bag to the nozzle that is inserted into the anus. The tube clamp allows the user to control the flow of water into the rectum, slowing or stopping it as needed.

When inserting the enema nozzle into the anus, lubricant typically should be used to minimize pain and discomfort. The liquid should be released slowly, and it should be slowed or stopped to accommodate the comfort of the user. Massaging the abdominal region in a counterclockwise motion during the enema can aid in allowing the water to penetrate the colon as far as possible. During evacuation of the bowels, the abdomen may be massaged in a clockwise motion.

There are several different positions used when administering a water enema. The recipient can lie on his or her back with knees raised. Another popular position for a water enema is with the recipient on his or her knees with the chest resting on the floor. This position allows the enema to flow deep into the colon for maximum cleaning.

A water enema can be used to cleanse the colon of built-up waste and toxins.
A water enema can be used to cleanse the colon of built-up waste and toxins.

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Discussion Comments


@Jacques6 - I've been considering doing enemas at home, but I'm not sure if they would be safe. Obviously a lot of people manage at home and I bet that it's a lot cheaper than seeing a doctor for an enema.

I've been looking at different kits online. The ones that use water bulbs seem ideal and a lot easier to use -- but I think that they would be harder to insert properly, if you know what I mean.

The ones that come with a hot water bottle look like the more professional style, but they also look harder to use. I guess I'll ask my doctor which one he would advise for safe and easy home use.


@amsden2000 - I'm very glad that someone invented the rubber hot water bottles use for enemas. I can't imagine trying to finagle a metal plunger around.

@Jacques6 - Coffee enemas have been linked to several deaths in the United States, just so you know. Make sure that you are doing them correctly and that your doctor explains all of the risks to you. My doctor advised me not to use coffee. He thinks that water is sufficient.

Personally, I think I'ill be sticking to water enemas for now. They are safe as long as you don't use them too often and they get the job done. My health has improved a lot since I started using enemas, so I can see why they have been around for so long.


@Jacques6 - Enemas are one of those embarrassing things that are sometimes necessarily. I was too embarrassed to ask my doctor about at first, so I went and did research on them at home. Enemas have a very long history and some of it is pretty amusing.

Back in the old times around the 17th century, water enemas were big in medical use. The problem was that while men could go and get enemas -- it was frowned on for women to get enemas from male apothecaries. Since all the apothecaries were male, special nozzles were made for enemas that could be used at home or be self administered.

That way, the women could avoid showing themselves to male doctors and everyone could do enemas in the privacy of their homes. Instead of a water bulb like we use today though, they had big metal plungers with odd looking nozzles. There are a few in some museums still -- complete with special nozzle.

My doctor found it really funny.


Water enemas are probably the easiest to do at home. I've tried water and coffee enemas -- and I prefer the coffee ones, but they are harder to perform on yourself and hold during the enema.

I asked my doctor about doing home enemas and he suggest that I use water first. The enema procedure is simple, but he thought that I would have an easier time with water rather than coffee.

I bought my enema kit online, but I had my doctor suggest which one to buy. It came with a tube, the clamp, the nozzle and a hot water bottle.

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