An enema is the procedure of introducing liquids into the bowel via the anus. Enemas can be carried out for medical reasons, as part of alternative therapies, and also for erotic purposes. In earlier times, they were often known as clysters.
The three main usages of enemas are:
- (Mechanical) laxative effect; the patient expels excrements with the enema water in the toilet after administration. Enemas (known as clysters) were the primary method for alleviating stomach aches up to the 19th century in the Western world bourgeoisie and nobility. They may also be used for cleaning the lower bowel prior to a medical or surgical procedure. Enemas given for that purpose may consist only of plain water, or may contain some chemicals in solution (such as soap).
- The administration of substances into the bloodstream in a manner similar to that of suppositories. An enema may also be used for hydratation purposes. See also route of administration.
- A barium enema is used as a contrast substance in the radiological
imaging of the bowel.
Enemas are nowadays administered mostly with bulb syringes for small quantities or fountain syringes (similar to douche bags, and often dual-usage) for larger quantities. In former times, they were administered using clyster syringes.
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