Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

What is constipation?

A division of the National Institutes of Health defines constipation as having a bowel movement fewer than three times a week. Stools are usually hard, dry, small in size and difficult to eliminate. People with constipation usually either have very large hard stools or hard pellet-like stools. Bowel movements are infrequent and often painful.

What causes constipation?

Lots of things can cause constipation. Common causes include not getting enough fiber, fluids or insufficient exercise. However, constipation can also result from a more serious medical condition.

How do I help prevent constipation?

There are several things you can do to help prevent constipation, such as eating a well-balanced diet with plenty of fiber, drinking lots of fluids and getting plenty of exercise.

How much fiber do you need per day?

The Institute of Medicine of the National Academies recommends 38 grams of fiber for adult men and 25 grams of fiber for adult women.

What are the different categories of laxatives?

Laxatives are grouped into the following categories:

  • Bulk-forming: An agent that increases bulk volume and water content of the stool, which then promotes a bowel movement.
  • Carbon dioxide-releasing: A suppository agent that contains ingredients that release carbon dioxide, which then induces gentle pressure in the rectum and promotes a bowel movement.
  • Hyperosmotic: An agent that attracts water into the stool and promotes a bowel movement. For example, Fleet® Liquid Glycerin and Glycerin Suppositories.
  • Lubricant: An agent that lubricates the contents of the intestinal tract, which coats the stool mass to keep moisture in, thereby helping to soften the stool mass and make it easier to pass. For example, Fleet® Mineral Oil Enema.
  • Saline: An agent that increases water in the intestine, which promotes a bowel movement. For example, Fleet® Enema.
  • Stimulant: An agent that promotes a bowel movement by directly acting on the intestine. For example, Fleet® Bisacodyl Enema.

*Source: Young, Frank E.; Heckler, Margaret M. PA OTC Compilation, Part I. Federal Register Vol. 50:No.10, 106-113, January 15, 1985.

Which laxative is right for you?

Laxatives are chosen by individual preference or at the recommendation of your physician. 

For constipation, why choose enemas vs. suppositories?

Rectal laxatives provide immediate relief and are a good alternative for someone who cannot take oral medication. Some enemas can work in 5 minutes or less, while suppositories work within an hour. 

Are all Fleet® products doctor-recommended?

Although enemas and suppositories are often doctor-recommended, our products are over-the-counter, it is not necessary to have a doctor prescribe the type of laxative best suited to your needs. In fact, many people learn about Fleet® laxatives from their family and friends.

Are Fleet® laxatives gluten-free?

Yes, all Fleet® laxatives are gluten-free.

Can I give my child Fleet® products?

We recommend using Pedia-Lax, Fleet’s® line of products designed especially for children. For more information, please visit

Enema Questions

What is an enema?

An enema is a delivery method that introduces a volume of liquid into the rectum. Enemas can act as a laxative and can be used for the relief of constipation. Enemas can be used prior to a medical procedure when prescribed by your doctor. All enemas should be administered rectally, NOT orally.

How long does it take a Fleet® laxative enema to relieve constipation?

Results will vary depending on which type of Fleet® enema is used. Please refer to each product page for relief times.

How long should you hold the liquid in your rectum before you use the bathroom?

Enema solution should be held until the urge to evacuate is strong. See drug facts for additional information. For Fleet® Saline Enema, if no urge is felt after 5 minutes of using, try to empty bowel. Call a doctor promptly after using a saline enema and no liquid comes out of the rectum after 30 minutes, because dehydration could occur.

Can I use the enema more than once?

No, the enema is disposable and designed to be used only once.

Where should the enema be inserted?

The enema should be inserted into the rectum and nowhere else.

The box states that the tip of the enema is lubricated. What is the lubricant used and why?

The tips of the Fleet® Saline Enemas, Mineral Oil Enemas and Bisacodyl enemas are lubricated with petroleum jelly to ease insertion into the rectum.

What position is best for insertion of an enema?

The best positions are either lying down on your left side, on your back or in a knee to chest position. View Diagram.

Diagram of positions for insertion of enemas

Do Fleet® enemas contain latex?

No. All Fleet® products are latex-free.

How often can an enema be used to relieve symptoms?

The enema can be used up to three days in a row before consulting a physician. If you have not received relief after three days of use, please contact your doctor. Using more than one enema within 24 hours can be harmful.

What’s the difference between Fleet® Enema EXTRA® and Fleet® Enema?

Fleet® Enema EXTRA contains 70% more volume than Fleet® Enema for extra cleansing and relief.

What should I do if I administer an enema and it does not work?

If there is no bowel movement after 5 minutes of using, try to empty bowel. Call a doctor promptly after using a saline enema and no liquid comes out of the rectum after 30 minutes, because dehydration could occur.

Can a Fleet enema be used for a child?

Adult-sized enemas should not be used for children under age 12. Use Pedia-Lax® Enema for Children or check out the rest of the Pedia-Lax® line at NEVER give an enema to children under two years old.

What are the benefits of using mineral oil when using an enema?

Mineral oil helps lubricate and soften the stool. Fleet® Mineral Oil Enema is sodium-free.

What are the benefits of using bisacodyl when using an enema?

Bisacodyl is a stimulant laxative that works directly on the intestine to increase the muscle contractions which move stool through the bowel. Fleet® Bisacodyl Enema is sodium phosphate-free.

Suppository Questions

What is a suppository?

A solid cone or cylinder-shaped medication, designed to be inserted into the rectum.

How does the suppository work?

The suppository draws water into the stool, thus softening the stool and helping to cause a bowel movement.

How long does it take for a suppository to relieve constipation?

A suppository generally works within 15 minutes to an hour.

Can suppositories be used on children?

Use Pedia-Lax® glycerin suppositories. Pedia-lax® is the first complete line of laxative formulated just for kids. For more information, please visit

Is it necessary for the suppository to melt in order to be effective?

No, the suppository does not need to melt in order to be effective. The suppository is designed to partially dissolve, which may or may not be noticeable.

How do you insert a suppository?

Using your finger, insert the suppository into the rectum. Push the suppository in as far as the length of your finger. Fleet® also makes Liquid Glycerin Suppositories that come in a convenient no-mess applicator, thus eliminating the need to use your finger.

What is the best way to store the suppositories?

The best place to store the suppositories is in a cool, dry place. They can also be refrigerated. The suppository is designed to dissolve once it becomes warm.

What is the benefit of using a glycerin suppository?

A gentle way to relieve occasional constipation.  Glycerin suppositories draws water into the stool   making bowel movement easier and more comfortable.  

What’s the difference between the Fleet® Glycerin Suppositories and the Fleet® Liquid Glycerin Suppositories?

Unlike Fleet® Glycerin Suppositories, Liquid Glycerin Suppositories provide no-mess application and faster delivery (there’s no need to wait for the suppository to dissolve).

Does the Fleet® Liquid Glycerin Suppository bulb need to be empty in order to be effective?

No. Even though a small amount of liquid may be left in the applicator, there is plenty of glycerin in the suppository to ensure that it is effective.