Glycerin (glycerol) suppositories for constipation

This leaflet is about the use of glycerin (glycerol) suppositories for constipation.

Information Standard quality markThis leaflet has been written specifically about the use of this medicine in children. The information may differ from that provided by the manufacturer. Please read this leaflet carefully. Keep it somewhere safe so that you can read it again.

Name of drug

Glycerin (glycerol) suppositories

Why is it important for my child to take this medicine?

  • When a child is constipated, their stools (poo) are hard and painful to pass and the child may try to hold the stool in. Constipation can also make the child feel quite poorly.
  • Glycerin suppositories are used to trigger emptying of the bowels and provide instant relief from constipation.

What is glycerin available as?

  • Suppositories: 1 g, 2 g, 4 g

When should I give glycerin suppositories?

Your doctor will tell you when to use the suppositories.

How much should I give?

Your doctor will decide which size glycerin suppository (the dose) is right for your child. The dose will be shown on the medicine label.

How should I give glycerin suppositories?

SuppositorySuppositories are inserted into the rectum (back passage).

  • Wash your hands with soap and hot water.
  • Unwrap the suppository.
  • Your child should be lying on his or her side or front.
  • Hold one buttock gently to one side so that you can see the back passage.
  • Hold the suppository with the rounded end close to the back passage.
  • Use one finger to push the suppository gently into the back passage. It needs to go in by about 2 cm.
  • Your child should stay lying down for about 15 minutes so that the suppository doesn’t come out.
  • Wash your hands again with soap and hot water.

When should the medicine start working?

Glycerin suppositories usually work after about 15 minutes. If your child does not empty their bowels (do a poo), do not insert another suppository.
Contact your doctor for advice, in case this is because of a problem other than constipation.

What if my child is sick (vomits)?

The suppository will still work, so you do not need to insert another one.

What if I give too much?

If you think you may have used too much, contact your doctor for advice.

Are there any possible side-effects?

We use medicines to make our children better, but sometimes they have other effects that we don’t want (side-effects).

  • Glycerin suppositories may cause stomach cramps.

Can other medicines be given at the same time as glycerin suppositories?

  • You can give your child medicines that contain paracetamol or ibuprofen, unless your doctor has told you not to.
  • Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you have used, or are using, any other medicines to treat your child’s constipation.

Is there anything else I need to know about glycerin suppositories?

  • Glycerin suppositories are only used to provide instant relief from temporary constipation. They should not be used to treat chronic (long-term) constipation (unless recommended by your doctor).
  • Only use glycerin suppositories for your child. Do not use them for anyone else, even if their condition appears to be the same.
  • If you think someone else may have used the glycerin suppositories by accident, particularly if they have other health problems, contact your doctor for advice, although they are unlikely to be harmed.

General advice about medicines

  • Make sure that you always have enough medicine. Order a new prescription at least 2 weeks before you will run out.
  • Make sure that the medicine you have at home has not reached the ‘best before’ or ‘use by’ date on the packaging. Give old medicines to your pharmacist to dispose of.

Where I should keep this medicine?

  • Keep the medicine in a cupboard, away from heat and direct sunlight. It does not need to be kept in the fridge.
  • Make sure that children cannot see or reach the medicine.
  • Keep the medicine in the container it came in.

Who to contact for more information

Your child’s doctor, pharmacist or nurse will be able to give you more information about glycerin suppositories and about other medicines used to treat constipation.

You can also get useful information from:

Publication Date


Copyright Disclaimer

Version 1.2, March 2011. © NPPG, RCPCH and WellChild 2010, all rights reserved. Reviewed by: March 2013.

We have written this leaflet to help you understand more about the medicine you are giving to your child. We take great care to make sure that the information is correct and up-to-date. However, medicines can be used in different ways for different patients. It is therefore important that you follow the advice of your doctor or pharmacist, as they understand your child’s illness. If you are not sure about something, ask your doctor or pharmacist. Note that this leaflet applies to the use of medicines in the UK; it may not apply in other countries. The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), The Neonatal and Paediatric Pharmacists Group (NPPG), WellChild and the contributors and editors cannot be held responsible for the accuracy of information, omissions of information, or any actions that may be taken as a consequence of reading the leaflet.