AskDefine | Define suppository

Dictionary Definition

suppository n : a small plug of medication designed for insertion into the rectum or vagina where it melts

User Contributed Dictionary



  • (UK): /səˈpɒzɪtəri/, /s@"pQzIt@ri/
  • (US): , /səˈpɑzɪˌtɔri/, /s@"pAzI%tOri/


  1. In the context of "medicine": A medicine in the form of a small plug that is inserted into a bodily cavity, especially the rectum or vagina, where it melts at body temperature.


medicine in the form of a small plug that is inserted into a bodily cavity
  • Dutch: zetpil, suppositoir, suppo
  • Finnish: suppo, suppositorio, peräpuikko
  • French: suppositoire
  • German: Zäpfchen
  • Italian: supposta
  • Japanese: qualifier general 坐薬, qualifier formal 坐剤
  • Polish: czopek
  • Swedish: stolpiller

Extensive Definition

A suppository is a drug delivery system that is inserted either into the rectum (rectal suppository), vagina (vaginal suppository) or urethra (urethral suppository) where it dissolves.
They are used to deliver both systemically-acting and locally-acting medications.
The alternative term for delivery of medicine via such routes, is known as a pharmaceutical pessary.
The general principle is that the suppository is inserted as a solid, and will dissolve inside the body to deliver the medicine.

Vaginal suppositories

Vaginal suppositories are commonly used to treat gynecological ailments, including vaginal infections such as candidiasis.

Rectal suppositories

Non-laxative rectal suppositories are to be used after defecation, so as not to be expelled before they are fully dissolved and the substance is absorbed. The use of a examination glove or a finger cot can ease insertion by protecting the rectal wall and the fingernail(s) from each other.

Urethral suppositories

Alprostadil pellets are urethral suppositories used for the treatment of severe erectile dysfunction. They are marketed under the name Muse in the United States. Its use has diminished since the development of oral impotence medications, but is still on the market.


Some suppositories are made from a greasy base, such as cocoa butter, in which the active ingredient and other excipients are dissolved; this grease will melt at body temperature (this may be a source of discomfort for the patient, as the melted grease may pass through the anus during flatulences). Other suppositories are made from a water soluble base, such as polyethylene glycol. Suppositories made from polyethylene glycol are commonly used in vaginal and urethral suppositories. Glycerin suppositories are made of glycerol and gelatin.glycerogelatin is prepared by mixing glycerol n water n is solidified by gelatin.


Suppositories may be used for patients in the event it may be easier to administer than tablets or syrups.
Suppositories may also be used when a patient has a vomiting tendency, as oral medication can be vomitted out.
Drugs which often cause stomach upset, for example diclofenac sodium (Voltaren) are better tolerated in suppository form.

"Liquid suppositories"

The phrase "liquid suppository" is also sometimes applied to the activity of injecting a liquid, typically a laxative, with a small syringe, into the rectum.



  • Abd-El-Maeboud, K.H., El-Naggar, T., El-Hawi, E.M.M., Mahmoud, S.A.R. & Abd-El-Hay, S., "Rectal Suppository: Commonsense and Mode of Insertion", The Lancet, Vol.338, No.8770, (28 September, 1991), pp.798–800.
  • Doyle, D., "Per Rectum: A History of Enemata", Journal of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, Vol.35, No.4, (December 2005), pp.367-370.
  • Payer, L., "How Medical Practice Reflects National Culture", The Sciences, Vol.30, No.4, (July-August 1990), pp.38-42.
suppository in Czech: Čípek (léčivo)
suppository in German: Suppositorium
suppository in Spanish: Supositorio
suppository in French: Suppositoire
suppository in Italian: Supposta
suppository in Dutch: Zetpil
suppository in Japanese: 坐剤
suppository in Norwegian: Stikkpiller
suppository in Polish: Czopek
suppository in Portuguese: Supositório
suppository in Russian: Суппозитории
suppository in Slovenian: Svečka
suppository in Finnish: Suppo
suppository in Swedish: Stolpiller
suppository in Chinese: 栓剂
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