When it comes to administering medications or supplements, there are many ways that can be used to get the medication where it needs to go. 

These routes include:

  • Oral (pills, liquids, chewable tablets),
  • Injection (into a vein, muscle, in the space around the spinal cord, or under the skin),
  • Sublingual (under the tongue),
  • Into the eye (ocular route), ear (otic route), or sprayed into the nose (nasal route),
  • Inhalation through the nose or nose and mouth,
  • Through the skin using a cream or transdermal patch, and
  • Rectal or vaginal insertion

Each of these routes has advantages and disadvantages, and some specific routes need to be used for the particular condition that is being treated.

For treating vaginal conditions, the use of the vaginal route of administration has many advantages: the medication is more quickly absorbed into the bloodstream than oral medication, lower doses can be used, the medication doesn’t need to be taken as often, it is easier to maintain a steady level of the drug, and it does not need to pass through the digestive system. 

Vaginal suppositories are a common way to administer medications directly into the vagina. These suppositories are small capsules that are inserted directly into the vagina, melt inside the body, are absorbed by the vaginal wall, and release medication into the bloodstream.

Vaginal suppositories are used to deliver medications that treat vaginal yeast infections (Candida) and vaginal dryness, and can also be used to deliver spermicide for birth control or boric acid, which can be used to help fight bacterial vaginosis and vaginal yeast infections. 

How to Use Vaginal Suppositories

Inserting a vaginal suppository is similar to inserting a tampon. 

The following is a list of step-by-step instructions on how to use them correctly.

  1. Wash your hands and vaginal area with mild soap and water, and dry well with a clean towel.

  2. Remove the suppository and applicator from the packaging and hold the applicator by the base, which has a plunger. Insert the capsule into the other end of the applicator. It can be helpful to quickly dip the end of the suppository in a small amount of water first, to make it easier to insert.

  3. Get into your preferred position: either lie on your back with your knees bent, stand with your feet hip distance apart with one foot on a stool, or stand with your feet apart and knees slightly bent.

  4. Insert the applicator into the vagina as far as it will comfortably go.  Gently push the plunger of the applicator, which releases the capsule deep into the vagina.

  5. Slowly and gently remove the applicator.

  6. If the applicator is reusable, wash it thoroughly with mild soap and warm water and allow it to dry.

You can also read our more in-depth guide on how to use a suppository.

Helpful Tips for Using Vaginal Suppositories

Vaginal suppositories can leak, so using them right before bed can minimize the leakage that would be more likely to occur during sitting and standing.  A sanitary pad is also helpful to absorb leaks and protect undergarments and bed linens.

Though suppositories can be used during menstruation, tampons should not be used since they will absorb the medication. Sanitary pads should be used instead.

If you miss a dose, wait until your next scheduled dose. Do not double up doses.

Do not douche while being treated with vaginal suppositories.

It is important to continue using the suppositories for as long as directed by the medical provider, even when symptoms improve or go away.

Store the suppositories in a cool place, away from heat, to prevent them from melting before use.

If you are using a spermicide suppository for contraception, you should insert it at least 10-15 minutes before having sex, allowing enough time for the suppository to melt and disperse.

While you are being treated with vaginal suppositories, it may be advisable or necessary to refrain from sexual intercourse during your course of treatment. 

This is because the medication may be pushed out of the vagina by intercourse or may damage and weaken condoms or diaphragms, increasing the risk of pregnancy or sexually transmitted disease. It is essential to speak with your healthcare provider about any recommendations specific to your condition and medication.

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