Vaginal Suppositories: Uses, Insertion, Alternatives

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A vaginal suppository is a form of solid medication inserted into the vagina with a special applicator. Once inserted, your body absorbs the medication through the vaginal tissue.

Vaginal suppositories may treat infection, pain, and vaginal dryness. Inserting a vaginal suppository is similar to using a tampon for your menstrual period.

This article discusses the uses, benefits, and tips for inserting vaginal suppositories.

A pharmacist talking to a customer about medication

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Vaginal suppositories are commonly used for the treatment of vaginal infections and dryness. Most are available over the counter without a prescription. 

Yeast Infection

Vaginal suppositories are a common treatment for yeast infections. A vaginal yeast infection is an infection of the vagina caused by an overgrowth of Candida yeast, a type of fungus. A vaginal yeast infection causes itching and burning in and around the vagina. 

Yeast infections are treated with antifungal medication. Antifungal vaginal suppositories are available over the counter (OTC) without a prescription. The treatment may last one to seven days, depending on the brand and dose. Common brands include:

  • Monistat 3 (miconazole)
  • Terazol 3 (terconazole) 
  • Femstat 3 (butoconazole) 

Some antifungal vaginal suppositories may weaken the effectiveness of condoms and diaphragms. Ask a healthcare provider when it is safe to have sex after treating a yeast infection.


Vaginal suppositories have been used to relieve pain with sexual intercourse. A common cause of pain with sex is vaginal dryness. This can happen to anyone but is especially common in people going through menopause. Vaginal suppositories can be used to provide moisture and improve the tissue quality of the vagina. 

Vaginal suppositories that treat vaginal dryness include Revaree and Carlson Key-E suppositories. They can be used up to five times per week.

Estrogen Suppositories

Another type of vaginal suppository used to prevent pain with sex is estrogen suppositories. Menopause causes a drop in the level of estrogen in the body. This leads to vaginal atrophy, a thinning of the vaginal walls. Symptoms of vaginal atrophy include itching, dryness, pain, and bleeding after sex. 

Estrogen suppositories are available with a prescription and include:

  • Vagifem
  • Imvexxy
  • Estring 
  • Estrace

Both vitamin E and vitamin D suppositories may be used to improve vaginal atrophy in people experiencing symptoms like dryness and irritation. These suppositories may improve symptoms, but more research is needed.

Pelvic Pain

Pelvic pain is a common condition that can be caused by a variety of factors, including endometriosis or problems with the following:

  • Uterus
  • Ovaries 
  • Bladder
  • Intestines 
  • Pelvic muscles 
  • Nerve function
  • Cardiovascular system

One possible treatment for pelvic pain is a vaginal suppository. One study found that a Valium (diazepam) suppository effectively treats pelvic pain caused by nonrelaxing pelvic floor muscles. This type of vaginal suppository may improve pain and make sex and physical therapy more comfortable. 

Standard Ingredients 

A vaginal suppository is a solid medication that “melts” or absorbs into the tissues of the vagina. The ingredients in a vaginal suppository vary depending on the purpose of the treatment. Vaginal suppositories may include moisturizers, hormones, vitamins, or antifungal medications.

Avoid any vaginal suppositories with artificial fragrances or flavors. These can lead to irritation, pain, or infection. 

Benefits of Boric Acid Suppositories 

Boric acid suppositories work by promoting the acidic balance of the vagina. They may help to relieve yeast infection symptoms like burning and itching. 

Common brands of boric acid suppositories include AZO Boric Acid with aloe vera and Hylafem. 

Possible side effects of boric acid vaginal suppositories include redness, irritation, and vaginal discharge.

A CBD suppository is a vaginal suppository that contains CBD (cannabidiol), a compound from the cannabis plant that is not intoxicating. CBD does not produce a “high” as THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) does. Promoters of CBD suppositories claim that these supplements can relieve vaginal pain and increase sexual pleasure. Research studies are needed to determine the safety and effectiveness of CBD vaginal suppositories. 

How to Insert a Suppository Applicator 

Inserting a vaginal suppository is simple but may take some practice. A suppository applicator will feel similar to applicators for menstrual period tampons.

Insert as follows:

  • Start by washing your hands and placing the suppository in the applicator.
  • Gently insert the applicator into your vagina as far as is comfortable.
  • From there, press the applicator’s plunger to insert the suppository.
  • Once you have pressed the plunger as far as possible, gently remove it from your vagina and lie back for a few minutes. 

Insertion Without an Applicator 

Some vaginal suppositories do not have an applicator and must be inserted by hand. To insert a vaginal suppository without an applicator:

  • Start by washing your hands and then lying back with your knees bent.
  • Place the suppository on the tip of your finger and gently insert it into your vagina.
  • Press your finger into your vagina as far as is comfortable.
  • Then slowly remove your finger and lie back for a few minutes. 

Tips to Increase Suppository Absorption 

Studies show that vaginal suppositories have a higher absorption rate than vaginal creams or oral medications. To achieve this higher absorption rate, it is important to prevent the medication from leaking out of the vagina before it has been absorbed.

After inserting the suppository and removing the applicator, lying back for about 10 to 15 minutes is best. This allows the medication to absorb into the vaginal tissues without leaking out. 


Vaginal suppositories, also known as vaginal melts, are solid medications that are inserted into the vagina with a special applicator. Once inserted, the medication absorbs into the walls of the vagina. Common uses for vaginal suppositories include treatment for yeast infections and vaginal dryness.

Many vaginal suppositories are available at pharmacies without a prescription. To improve the absorption, plan to lie down for about 10 to 15 minutes after inserting the suppository.

13 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Carrie Madormo, RN, MPH
Carrie Madormo, RN, MPH, is a health writer with over a decade of experience working as a registered nurse. She has practiced in a variety of settings including pediatrics, oncology, chronic pain, and public health.