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Vaginal suppositories are solid, oval-shaped treatments that are inserted into the vagina using a plastic applicator. They become liquid as they warm to the body’s temperature.

A vaginal suppository provides targeted relief from conditions affecting the vagina. They also tend to be fast acting due to their rapid absorption.

This article provides a step-by-step guide on how to use vaginal suppositories. It also takes a look at when people may use vaginal suppositories, with information on what to expect in each case.

The following step-by-step guide shows the correct way to prepare and use vaginal suppositories.

Preventing leakage

  • It may be best to use vaginal suppositories before going to bed. Lying down will reduce leakage of the product that could occur while sitting or standing.
  • Wearing sanitary pads will protect underwear and bed linen from leakage.

Ensuring the correct dose

  • People can take vaginal suppositories during a menstrual period. But they should use sanitary pads instead of tampons as tampons may absorb some of the medication.
  • A person should take the medication for as long as directed, even if the symptoms go away.

If a person misses a dose, they should wait until the time of their next scheduled dose before inserting the suppository again.

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Vaginal suppositories can treat certain conditions, such as yeast infections.

Vaginal suppositories can help with the treatment of fungal infections and vaginal dryness.

Contraceptive suppositories are another type of vaginal suppository that some people used as a form of birth control.

Suppositories will take varying lengths of time to work, depending on their purpose. The size and chemical makeup of a suppository will also determine the rate at which it dissolves.

Birth control

Contraceptive suppositories contain a spermicide that acts to prevent pregnancy in two ways:

  1. It creates a foam substance that blocks the entrance to the cervix so sperm cannot get through.
  2. It immobilizes and kills the sperm, so they are unable to travel to the womb.

People should insert the suppository into the vagina at least 10 minutes before sex. Doing so allows enough time for the medication to melt, enabling the spermicide to disperse.

According to Planned Parenthood, 18 percent of women using contraceptive suppositories will become pregnant each year despite using them correctly. With imperfect use, this figure can be as high as 28 percent.

Yeast infections

A vaginal yeast infection, which is also known as vaginal candidiasis, is a common condition. The infection is due to the organism Candida albicans.

People can treat vaginal yeast infections with both over-the-counter (OTC) suppositories and natural suppositories.

OTC suppositories

Some antifungal drugs are available as both creams and suppositories, such as clotrimazole and miconazole. These come in different strengths and are available for purchase over the counter.

Depending on the strength, the medication can often take between 3 and 7 days to clear an existing infection. Suppositories usually require fewer dosages than creams and tend to provide symptom relief sooner.

A doctor can prescribe a 14-day course of suppositories for more severe or complicated yeast infections.

When using vaginal suppositories for a yeast infection, it is essential to complete the recommended course even if symptoms disappear before finishing all the medication.

Natural suppositories

For many decades, people have used boric acid suppositories as an alternative treatment for recurrent vaginal yeast infections. These are also available over the counter in most health stores and online.

A 2011 review paper investigated the efficacy of boric acid in treating recurrent vaginal candidiasis. Across 14 studies, the number of women cured of infection ranged from 40 to 100 percent.

A more recent 2018 laboratory study found that boric acid works by restricting the growth of Candida albicans and Candida glabrata strains that have become resistant to conventional drug treatment.

Boric acid suppositories may be particularly useful for people whose vaginal candidiasis symptoms do not improve after an extended course of conventional treatment.

Vaginal dryness

Vaginal dryness can affect people of any age but is more common among those transitioning to menopause. Certain suppositories can help to maintain vaginal moisture and healthy pH levels.

Hormone suppositories

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Hormone suppositories may treat vaginal dryness.

A recent clinical trial suggested that hormonal suppositories might be an effective treatment for vaginal dryness, particularly among women who are unable to take Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT).

Over 12 weeks, 325 women took a hormonal suppository called Prasterone, and 157 women took a placebo.

At the end of the 12 weeks, the women who took the drug showed significant improvements in vaginal dryness compared with those who received the placebo.

Prasterone also appeared to work locally within the vaginal cells, thereby causing few side effects.

Vitamin E suppositories

Another recent study found that a 12-week course of vitamin E suppositories might be beneficial for treating vaginal dryness and other symptoms of vaginal atrophy.

The small study compared the efficacy of vitamin E suppositories and a vaginal cream, containing the hormone estrogen, among 52 women.

Both treatments offered significant improvement in symptoms after 4 weeks, although the estrogen cream was the most effective.

But the vitamin E may be slower to work than estrogen cream since there were no significant differences between the two treatments at 8 and 12 weeks.

For women who are sensitive to hormone therapy, vitamin E suppositories could potentially be a suitable and safer alternative.

Vaginal suppositories for contraception tend to be less effective than more common methods of birth control.

However, vaginal suppositories for treating yeast infections and vaginal dryness are generally considered both safe and effective. In many cases, they may also provide faster and more targeted relief than oral medications, along with fewer side effects.

Use of vaginal suppositories is fairly simple and should cause only minimal discomfort. When applying them, people may want to try the different postures to determine which works best for them.