Vaginal suppositories: How to use them and what to expect

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.

Using vaginal suppositories: Step-by-step

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


Step 1

Wash the hands and vaginal area with mild soap and warm water before patting dry with a clean towel. This will prevent any spread of bacteria.

Step 2

Fill the applicator, unless it is pre-filled.

Solid suppositories: Unwrap the suppository and applicator. Hold the base of the applicator in one hand and place the suppository inside the applicator with the other hand. Dipping the end of the suppository in water may make it easier to insert.

Cream suppositories: Connect the opening of the tube of cream to the open end of the applicator. Fill the applicator until it reaches the correct dosage.


Vaginal suppositories can be applied when lying down or standing, whichever feels most comfortable. The lying position may be the best method for people requiring assistance from a caregiver.

To begin, lie on your back with knees bent. Alternatively, stand with legs shoulder-width apart and one foot raised on a stool or other elevated platform.

Step 1

Place the applicator at the vaginal opening. Gently insert the applicator into the vagina, as far as it will go, without causing discomfort.

Step 2

Gently push the plunger of the applicator until it goes no further. This forces the suppository deep into the vagina.

Step 3

Remove the applicator slowly and gently.

Step 4

If the applicator is reusable, wash it with some gentle soap and warm water. Discard a nonreusable applicator along with the household waste.

Additional tips

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.

What are vaginal suppositories used for?

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:

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.

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.

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