A hand holding up a suppository as a light casts scary contrasting shadows

I Suppose It's Time for My First Suppository...

Last updated: January 2023

After finding rectal inflammation during a recent colonoscopy, I had the feeling my doctor would bring up adding suppositories to my UC treatment plan for the first time. I always like to feel prepared, so of course, this led to me spending far too much time on Google looking up other people's experiences with suppositories.

The build-up of anxiety

I built up my worries before the doctor's visit, feeling (unnecessarily) anxious about trying a suppository for the first time. Having IBD can make you have to do things that you never thought you would need to – giving a stool sample, getting colonoscopies regularly while still in your 20s, and now, taking suppositories.

While I know there's no reason for it, I felt some shame at the thought of having to pick up the suppositories from the pharmacy and take them while in the next room from my partner.

It's odd how someone with an illness that so involves poop and all the taboos can still feel that tinge of embarrassment after many years of living with it. At the same time, as worries clouded my thoughts, I desperately wanted relief from my symptoms, and suppositories seemed like a perfect option for getting medication where I most needed it.

Ulcerative colitis and Crohn's horror stories

Although there were some horror stories online of people really struggling with suppositories, most people found them easy enough to take in time and well worth the reduction in symptoms that resulted. I also knew realistically that there was no shame in taking medication to help my ulcerative colitis, regardless of its route of administration.

Prescribed mesalamine suppositories

As I had predicted, at my follow-up visit with my gastroenterologist, she recommended I add mesalamine suppositories to my treatment plan for a couple months and see how things go. She shared with me some of the benefits of suppositories – getting medication directly where it was needed more easily than oral medications, being able to go on and off the medication based on symptoms, and avoiding steroids with all their possible side effects. This sounded good to me, as I didn't want to go on steroids again and was hoping to hold off on needing to switch to biologics.

Preparation and administering the suppository

In preparation for what I was dubbed the "big event" in my mind, I went to the store to purchase lube. As the night approached, I felt my nerves increasing and my mind focusing on how difficult I imagined this was going to be. As with anything else, it's easy to find the horror stories online and fixate on them at the expense of all the positive, reassuring comments.

I got into position in the bed, anticipating I might be there for a while. With the help of way too much lube, taking the suppository was both quick and easy. In fact, it was so quick and easy, I felt ridiculous for how anxious I had been. While the sensation itself was new, I didn't experience any kind of difficulty taking or retaining the suppository. Everything had gone smoothly.

A great addition to my UC treatment plan

Over a month later, taking my nightly suppository is now a seamless part of my routine. It takes me about a minute or less each night, and the benefits have been so worth it. My bleeding, urgency, and diarrhea have vanished. The only downside has been the weird oily gas that has led to me needing to change my underwear in the morning. Even that has only happened once, though.

Overall, I'm glad I faced my anxiety and didn't let it hold me back from what has turned out to be a very effective medication.

The anxiety was way worse than the suppository

As someone who can be anxious about new things, my experience with trying suppositories has taught me that our anticipation and worry is often far worse than the actual experience. I wish I had listened more to those reassuring stories online and hope that my own experience can be a comfort to someone else who needs to take this next step in their treatment.

Although those small bullet-shaped medications can be intimidating, they can also be a very powerful tool in keeping symptoms under control.

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