Do Enemas Hurt? What to Expect

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Do Enemas Hurt? What to Expect


If you’ve never used an enema, you might have some questions before you embark on your first one. For many people, a big question is “do enemas hurt?” The short answer is no, an enema shouldn’t cause pain. The longer answer is a little more complicated and depends on several factors, including your enema experience. So, if you’re trying an enema for the very first time, it might be a little bit uncomfortable (NOT painful!) as your body adjusts to the sensation. 

If you’re performing an enema for the first time, you may experience some minor discomfort. Why? Because enemas can trigger sensations that our bodies don’t experience on a day to day basis. That said, if you experience actual pain, stop immediately and contact your healthcare provider as the pain could be indicative of an underlying issue. Even if it isn’t, safety first, right?

Now let’s talk a bit about enemas. How they feel, why they are used, how to avoid discomfort and more!

What Do Enemas Feel Like?

I’m not going to lie to you, the best answer here is “awkward”. Putting a lubricated tube in your butt and then filling your colon with liquid is an inherently awkward act. But again, and I can’t stress this enough, it should not hurt. 

Once the fluid is inside you, it’s common to feel a heavy sensation in your stomach and colon. This is totally normal. It’s just the introduction of all that fluid that’s creating the sensation. Additionally, you might feel some mild muscle spasms. This is not only normal but actually good -  it means the enema is working as intended. That sensation is the muscles of your GI tract working to push out whatever is in your colon. 

What Are Enemas Used For?

So, what is an enema and what is it used for? There are several reasons someone might use an enema, like to relieve constipation colon cleansing before a medical procedure. Additionally, some folks use enemas as a detoxification ritual. It’s important to note that detoxification via enema isn’t supported by scientific evidence, and the body is generally pretty good at “detoxing” itself. 

More to the sexually-related point, enemas can be used to clean the colon and anus in preparation for anal sex. Using an enema beforehand can help alleviate some of the anxiety many folks feel about the possibility of stool/feces making an appearance when things get sexy. Using an enema is by no means something you have to do before anal sex play, but if you want to make sure your sexy time stays as clean as possible, an enema can be a great way to do it. 

If you have an underlying medical condition or experience irritable bowel syndrome, severe constipation, or ulcerative colitis make sure to get medical advice from your doctor before embarking on the enema journey. 


Types Of Enemas To Consider

Okay, so in general, there are two kinds of enemas: cleansing and barium. Barium enemas are  generally performed by doctors or radiologists in a medical setting, so we’re going to focus our attention on cleansing enemas

Cleansing enema solutions are water-based, and can feature ingredients such as sodium and phosphate, mineral oil, or bisacodyl or a saline enema solution-- a water mixture with the correct amount of sodium and electrolytes to match what is in your body. Those ingredients can help move the contents of the bowels along quicker than they move on their own. 

You can also buy prepared enema kits at most pharmacies. These come with a pre-filled bottle and lubricated nozzle tip for easy insertion. 

If you think you might want to use an enema regularly, it might make sense to consider something reusable. There are tons of options available, from the basic versions like the PinkCherry Ultimate Cleansing System, to the more powerful, like the Enema Syringe, to the full-on commitment like the shower-installed Clean Stream Discreet Shower Head & Enema Nozzle . There’s an enema for every comfort level. 

Each of these options comes with its own set of instructions. Be sure to read any directions that come with your particular enema kit, and follow them closely to ensure you stay safe while getting clean!

How To Minimize Discomfort

I’m going to say it again: an enema should never be painful but it might be a bit uncomfortable, especially the first time you do it. This has a lot to do with unfamiliar sensations and nervousness, so here are some handy dandy tips you can follow to help keep things comfy.  

  • Chill out. Look, I know it’s infuriating when people say “calm down” or “relax” in situations that make us nervous but, trust me, in this case, it’s definitely worth trying to get a bit mellow. Why? Being tense can make your rectum squeeze tighter and that’s just going to make the whole thing less comfortable. Try soaking in a hot bath to relax both the mind and the body before embarking on your enema expedition. 
  • Those deep breaths you take in yoga class? Do that! The benefits of this one are two-fold: the deep breathing will help keep you calm and relaxed and it will also give you something to focus on if your brain is freaking out (again, nothing to freak out about, but brains are funny and tend to decide for themselves when it’s time to freak out). Try this technique: Once you have the lubricated nozzle ready to go, inhale while counting to 10. Once it is inserted, exhale while counting to 10 (slowly, don’t rush!) Repeat that process while releasing the fluid into your rectum and holding it there. 
  • This one is going to sound wrong but trust me: Bear down. Okay, I know this will sound totally counter-intuitive but if you find you are having a bit of difficulty inserting the tip (like if it feels like it just doesn’t want to go in), the best thing to do is to bear down like you would if you were having a bowel movement. I know it sounds like pushing down would be the opposite of what you want but it can actually serve to relax your muscles and allow the enema tip to slide further into the rectum. But remember, the tip should never be forced.  

What To Do If You Experience Pain

Okay, I promise this is the absolute last time I say this: Enemas might involve mild discomfort but they should NEVER be painful. If you have hemorrhoids, sores, or any kind of tears in the skin of your anus, let them heal before trying an enema. Performing an enema with any of those things present will almost definitely be painful, so just don’t do it. 

If you don’t have any hemorrhoids, sores, or tears and you still experience pain, whether it be while inserting the nozzle tip or while pushing the liquid into your body, you should definitely stop what you are doing right away. Additionally, you should probably contact a medical provider ASAP in case there are underlying issues.  

What To Expect After The Enema Is Complete

With a cleansing enema, it is often advised to lay on one’s side once all the liquid has been pushed into the colon and the tube removed from the anus. Typically, after a couple of minutes, you will feel the urge to release (this is why it’s a good idea to perform enemas in the bathroom). When you feel that urge, get up (carefully) and go to the toilet. 

Afterward, it is advised to stay near a bathroom for a couple of hours to make sure your body has the chance to expel everything it needs to, you might find you end up releasing the liquid into the toilet several times. If you are planning on engaging in anal sex play, your body will also need that time to calm down before you start stimulating the anal area. 

Keeping Clean and Comfortable

So there you have it. Enemas are generally safe and do not hurt. There can be some discomfort involved but there are steps you can take to mitigate that. As long as you follow instructions and don’t overdo it (it can vary from person to person but in general you should not perform more than 2 to 3 douche or enema sessions per week), you should stay safe, clean, and comfortable. 

Want your own enema kit? Check out PinkCherry’s selection of anal douche and enema products!

If you’re interested in learning more about booty cleansing and have questions like “colonic vs enema: what’s the difference?”, “what is anal douching?”, “how to anal douche safely”, and “what is the best anal douche?”, read our linked blogs!


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Written By: JoEllen Notte

JoEllen Notte is a writer, speaker, sex educator, and mental health advocate whose work explores the impact of depression on sex and relationships. Since 2012 she has written about sex, mental health, and how none of us are broken on her award-winning site The Redhead Bedhead as well as for Glamour, The BBC, Bitch, PsychCentral, and more. JoEllen is the author of The Monster Under the Bed: Sex, Depression, and the Conversations We Aren’t Having.

Medically Reviewed By: Dr. Sunny Rodgers

This content was reviewed for accuracy and relevancy by Dr. Sunny Rodgers.

Dr. Sunny Rodgers is a clinician, author, and speaker who has worked in the wellness industry since 2000. She holds a Ph.D. in Human Sexuality, a Master of Arts in Clinical Sexology, and is an accredited Sexual Health Educator. She is the Founder of The Institute of Intimate Health, an Ambassador for the American Sexual Health Association, regular lecturer for the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine, Sexual Confidence Coach for the Marigold App, and a professional Sex Toy Concierge™. Rodgers hosted a popular weekly show on Playboy Radio, has been an expert guest on several TV and radio programs, and is a regular contributor to HuffPost, Men's Health, Cosmo, Bustle, and many more publications.