Small, solid, ovular, and often white, vaginal suppositories look kind of like oversize pills. But you take them in a very different way. As the name suggests, vaginal suppositories are a kind of medication that you take vaginally. A doctor may prescribe a vaginal suppository to treat vaginal conditions such as a yeast infection, bacterial vaginosis, or trichomoniasis. They might also prescribe them to pregnant women who are low on progesterone in the first trimester.
Certain types of contraception, such as spermicide, can also be administered in this way, and hormonal therapy may be administered via vaginal suppository as a way to treat vaginal dryness or endometriosis. Some vaginal suppositories, particularly those that treat yeast infections, are even available over-the-counter.
To understand why would you take medication vaginally, we need to consider the vagina. The vaginal walls are made up of mucous membrane, which absorb medication easily. "The vagina is an extremely great place to have anything absorbed into your system,” Carolyn DeLucia, MD, FACOG, previously told Refinery29. After you insert a suppository, it will dissolve in the vagina, be absorbed into your bloodstream, and begin its work.
So, how do you actually insert a suppository? Generally, you use a plastic applicator, similar to inserting a tampon. You can either stand up or lie down, whichever is more comfortable for you. You’ll want to wash your hands before and after, and if the applicator is reusable, you’ll want to wash that, too. Doctors may recommend you take the suppository before going to bed, because lying down can reduce leaking.
Over the past few years, several brands have released over-the-counter vaginal suppositories that claim to relieve pain, manage cramps, or prevent yeast infections. Not all of these suppositories are FDA-regulated, and some may even be unsafe. Instead of simply picking up a pretty bottle at the drugstore, it's a good idea to check in your healthcare provider before taking anything.