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How does a laxative suppository work?

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Quick Answer

According to Mayo Clinic, there are five different types of laxative suppositories: stimulants, lubricants, carbon dioxide-releasing, stool softeners and hyperosmotic. Each type of suppository works in a different way.

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How does a laxative suppository work?
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Full Answer

Stimulants prompt the intestinal wall to contract, which pushes the stool through the digestive tract. Senna and bisacodyl are often found in stimulant suppositories. Lubricants like mineral oil coat hardened stool with a film that makes it easier for stool to pass through the intestine. The film also coats the intestinal tract, according to Mayo Clinic. Carbon dioxide-releasing suppositories produce carbon dioxide gas that causes contractions by pushing against the wall of the intestine. This moves stool through the digestive tract.

Mayo Clinic says that stool softeners add liquid to dry stools to make them easier to pass. They do not stimulate a bowel movement; instead, they make it easier to have a bowel movement. Hyperosmotic suppositories soften stool by drawing water into the intestine from other parts of the body. These suppositories may contain ingredients such as sodium phosphates or glycerin, according to WebMD.

Laxative suppositories are used to treat a condition called constipation. The National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse defines constipation as a condition that causes a person to have fewer than three bowel movements in one week or makes it difficult to pass stool.

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