Enema History: How Enemas Evolved Through History


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Enemas in the Mid 20th Century


The best way to illustrate enemas during the mid 20th century is from personal accounts.


My mom and dad are grew up getting enemas as a child and during their teens. Anyway, needless to say, she continued the tradition. Every Tuesday and Saturday the three of us, younger sister, older brother, and me, were naked and standing in line for our cleanouts. It was till HS graduation for each. My sis and I were o k with it most of the time, the alternative was a session with the switch to calm one down, but my bro usually ended up over mommy's lap at least once a week. Wow, he hated getting an enema.

I grew up in the 60s when most kids got enemas. My mother was good friends with the moms of several of my friends. They would talk daily and if any of us were sick everyone knew the details. This included if I was about to get an enema or if she had given me one earlier. All of the friends also knew what had happened to whom, too. Even though we all knew it was still embarrassing to hear one half of the phone conversations, especially once we hit puberty.

Observing others getting enemas in our household, when I was a child, in 50's-60's, was pretty commonplace.

During the summer, mom liked to administer the enemas out-of-doors, near the outdoor privy (we had both indoor and outdoor facilities). Mom would announce that "today is enema day" and we had to be ready (that meant being naked) when she called. If we were going to have an outdoor enema, my brothers would simply undress by the privy (in the summer, often they'd often wear nothing more than gym shorts) while us girls would get undressed in the house, don a robe, then meet mom by the privy where we'd hang the robe on a hook on the two-holer building.

Sometimes when mom had a real production line going for the five of us getting enemas, I'd end up sitting next to my brother expelling. We didn't think anything of that situation, even when we were in high school.

Our indoor bathroom was quite small so mom gave enemas in the kitchen and we'd take our turns expelling.

When I was 12 years old, I had the most embarrassing experience of my life up to that time. It was summer and there had been an illness going around our neighborhood. We and the Benderís, another family in the neighborhood, had the same family doctor. I had come down with whatever was going around and so had the two Bender children. Cathy and Tom, 11 and 13, which resulted in back to back appointments. My mother and I were called in first and at the end of my examination the doctor gave my mother two prescriptions and also prescribed an enema for me when we got home. As we were leaving the office the Benders were taken in. We walked about two blocks to a pharmacy to get the prescriptions filled. And while we were waiting for them the Benders came in to get prescriptions filled. As we waited Mrs. Bender told my mother that she needed to give her two children enemas and that she didnít have an enema bag at home and would need to buy one but wasnít sure what to get. My mother offered to help her select one and she ended up selecting an open top Duvol bag

After completing our purchases we all rode home together on the bus. As we went Mrs. Bender confided to my mother that she had never given an enema or taken one herself. She said that she had been given several by her mother when she was quite young but didnít know how to give one. My mother told her that the doctor had ordered a soap suds enema for me and she needed to give it to me and follow it up with a rinse enema, Mrs. Bender said that she had been advised to do the same thing, give soapsuds enemas. Much to my distress my mother invited her come over and observe her giving the enema to me and, adding to that distress, she suggested that after I had the first enema that she, Mrs. Bender, could give me a second enema because she needed the experience before she gave them to her children and that another enema would be needed to clear any residual soap out of me, then after my enemas she would go with her and help her give her children their enemas

Shortly after my mother and I arrived home Mrs. Bender came to the house and she and my mother took me into the bathroom. I was told to completely undress and sit on the closed toilet while my mother showed Mrs. Bender how my enema was prepared. A bar of Ivory soap was put into the bag and it was filled a little, then the top rolled over and the bag was shaken vigorously then opened and filled with more water allowing the bar of soap to remain floating in the bag. It was then hung from a towel rod and I was told to get onto the floor mat on my back and pull my legs up and back exposing myself. I was so embarrassed and felt so ashamed to have Mrs. Bender see all of me. I knew what was going to happen regardless of my pleas for privacy and not to have the enema, bit I also knew that it could not be avoided. Like all the enemas my mother gave me, it would be painful and relentlessly given with the bag hung high resulting in too much pressure, and with the bar of soap remaining in the bag, very, very soapy. As I lay there on my back my mother and Mrs. Bender knelt on the floor beside me and mother had her hold my legs back and look closely as she lubricated, first the outside and then inside of my anus with her finger, and then the enema nozzle. Then she pushed the nozzle into me and opened the clamp. When the enema started flowing I yelled that I didnít want an enema and reached down and pulled the nozzle out. Enema sprayed everywhere, all over my mother, Mrs. Bender and the bathroom. My mother closed the clamp and then spanked the daylights out of me. Even though I already had some enema in me, the bag was refilled because my mother said that I hadnít had much to start with and I had wasted a lot of the enema and I would be taking it all.. The nozzle was put back in and she ask Mrs. Bender to hold it in me while she held my hands so I couldnít pull it out again. As was typical of all the enemas my mother gave and took herself once started they werenít stopped until it was all in regardless of how much it hurt and I cried, begged and pleaded for it to stop. Finally the bag emptied and I was put on the toilet

With the exception of no soap, the enema Mrs. Bender gave me followed the same procedure as the one my mother gave me, the bag was re-hung from the high towel rod, I was placed on the bathroom floor on my back and my legs pulled up and back, the nozzle was put into me and the clamp opened, and the flow continued till the bag emptied. When it was over we all went to the Bender house because I couldnít be left home alone, and the enemas were given to the two children. I didnít see what was done but from the crying and begging I heard coming from the bathroom it could not have been any different than what happened to me

Afterwards I was red with embarrassment every time I saw Mrs. Bender and did everything I could to avoid her.

Enemas were no secret in our household in the 1950s and early 1960s ... and often, when one got an enema, we all, 3 brothers and 2 sisters, got an enema. Mom felt that was a good way to keep one siblings from giggling about what happened to the other.

I sometimes wonder if she didn't like the "production-line" style of administering enemas ... everyone undressed in the kitchen of our farm house where she usually had a huge bucket of water, enough for the first round of enemas for all of us.

When we were finished taking the first soapy enema, usually a quart or so, we could either use the indoor bathroom or run to the outdoor privy. there was something thrilling about running naked from the house to the two-holer, about 40 yards.

Mom usually administered two rounds of soapy enemas, two rounds of clear water rinses. We expelled the second clean water enema in the bathroom in the house and if mom felt it was clear enough, we were excused. If not, we got another.

While maybe there was some discomfort about taking an enema in a group, none of use were uncomfortable with being naked in front of each other. We often went skinny dipping in the river on our farm (even through high school), and we had a shower behind the house that was used often during the summer. We did a lot of work in the field and mom would not let us eat supper until we had washed off all the field dust and grime.

All in all, we had a very good life on the farm. I miss it. I wish my kids had had a chance to grow up in the same lifestyle I did. I loved returning home for the summer during college ... nothing changed, and that was good.

I am a 'war-baby' (born in 1944), and did get a generous allotment of enemas from Mum until I left home at 18. A thought occurred to me while I was reading the following posts, and that is this: At that time (1944-1950), antibiotics were just becoming available; a lot of the medical research had been 'pushed' by the war effort, Fleming's discovery of penicillin was still very new, for example. So the emphasis for home care remedies was on more 'natural' methods; because the option of getting a prescription for some drug or other was not always available, or perhaps couldn't have been afforded. So if the kid had a fever, cool him down with an enema; it really does work, ladies and gentlemen. If one had a head cold, use steam to help relieve congestion. It works. Oh, and, of course, if the kid is constipated, what else? Two or three enemas should do the trick. Oh, and who can forget the calming influence of a nice enema? Your kid was being fractious, refused to settle down? What else. And in the pre-tranquilizer days, enemas were used for their calming effects (on patients )in mental institutions. I have read that enemas were once even considered a pain relief therapy, when pain drugs were not readily available.

Somehow, I believe the side effect of having received many enemas of becoming enamored of them, is a lot safer alternative to being hooked on assorted cold remedies with their unknown potential side effects, assorted psychotropic drugs for depression (some of which precipitate suicide, ironically enough), and having to suffer from laxatives.

As one doctor (whose name I cannot remember) once put it when asked why an enema rather than a laxative, 'Why bother disrupting the whole 30 feet of digestive tract, when the problem is likely only in the last five feet?'

As for why they seemed to die away as a home remedy, there are a few obvious reasons. First and foremost in my mind is the withdrawal of support for it as a treatment option by the family doctor. This was, of course, encouraged by the pharmaceutical industry, which has a multibillion dollar business in providing laxatives, and other medicinal cures for constipation. And, of course, it Is easier to take a pill, than to take time for an enema.

And, of course, the use of the steamer and mustard plasters for congestion, and the enema for fever reduction, all of which are labor intensive, while consuming any of the many hundreds of cold remedies is simpler, easier and faster (and is also another multibillion dollar subdivision of the pharmaceutical industry).

So the withdrawal of 'Professional Support' for the enema, combined with a 'disinclination' to administer enemas to their kids by many Mums (either because they didn't like doing them, didn't want to do them to their kids because they didn't like getting them when they were kids, or they were just too busy/lazy to give them) has led to the reduction in use of them in child rearing.

It is interesting to note that there were some who persisted until present time, and I believe that their kids are actually better off because their Mums did 'carry on the tradition'.

Yes, I suppose there are some Mothers who may 'enjoy' get sexual gratification out of) giving enemas to their children; but I believe that given a mother's commitment to their children, the amount of time and care they have invested in their charges, any choice to administer an enema would normally be made for a 'legitimate reason', especially if one considers the time commitment it entails.

Back in the "good old days," when we lived on the farm where there was little exposure to the outside world, enemas during the summer were given by the outhouse which was about 30 yards from the house late Saturday afternoon. And all us kids got them at the same time, the same way. Mom had her 12-ounce bulb syringe and a 10-quart bucket of soapy water to tend to the three of use. We were told simply to undress, hang our clothes on the nails on the side of the outhouse, bend over and take what mom delivered.

Even when Sis and I were in HS, the ritual was just the same ... and we didn't think anything of it.

We would undress ... she would bend over, hands on her knees, legs spread, mom would lube the nozzle, insert it the first time very slowly, and squeeze gently. She repeated this several times, then made my sister stand for a while as I got my enema the same way. Obviously I watched her as she got the enema, she watched as I got mine ... and my little sister, two years younger than me, was always last. Because we had a two-holer, often times my sister and I ended up sitting side-by-side in the outhouse, expelling.

Mom usually gave a second round of soapy enemas until the water was all used up, then refilled the bucket with clear water, and administered two or three rinse enemas.

People today question everyone using the same enema equipment ... back then we had one syringe, plenty of petroleum jelly, and obviously plenty of water. The enema process for the three of us usually took about an hour or so.

After supper, usually about 7 p.m., we took our Saturday baths, also outside, all at the same time, washing each other's backs.

Life was so different, so much more simple back then, and obviously, a lot more innocent.

Seeing others getting an enema in our family, in 50's, when I was a child, was not unusual because mom had a rule that if one child was going to get an enema, we all probably needed an enema. There were four of us ... two boys and two girls. So we all had to get undressed and were given enemas in the kitchen and when one was done getting, that person would go to the bathroom to expel while the enema for the second person was prepared.

Mom didn't believe in big enemas, so we each usually got about a quart. But we usually got a series of three or four.

Unless someone got very sick and needed an enema immediately, mom usually scheduled enemas for Saturday mornings and the "event" usually last about two hours until we all had our turns and mom was satisfied that we were cleaned out.

This routine continued right through high school.

Were we concerned about being naked in front of our siblings?

Not really, because during the summer, we would go skinny dipping in the river that ran through our farm.

One of the benefits beyond the healthy enemas, was the fact that when my brother's friends were all getting ga-ga over girls and sneaking looks at nudie magazines and the like, my brothers just gave a "so what's so great about that" because they had seen everything already for years.

In 50's, we lived on a farm way out in the country where there were not too many visitors and, because our house was set well back from the seldom-traveled road, we had had a lot of privacy.

I can remember, when we were preschool and even in the pre-teens, on hot summer days, instead of bathing in the hot bathroom, my two sisters and I would wash up outside, soaping ourselves and then using the garden hose to rinse.

We didn't feel to self conscious about our bodies because we had seen each other nude so often, it really didn't seem unusual. However, we didn't talk about this with our friends because they would always joke about seeing their brothers or sisters bathing. We thought they were the unusual ones.

We respected each other's privacy as we got older, but even occasionally when I was in late high school and my sisters would come home from college, we would go skinny dipping in the river which ran through our property.

One thing about our parents, they treated us equally. When one person got sick, it seemed that all were considered to be sick and got some sort of medicine.

This even happened when we got enemas. If anyone was sick or couldn't go to the bathroom, we all got enemas.

We would go into the kitchen to undress during the winter or we would do this outside during the summer when it was warm. Mom always said there was no reason to hide in the house when there was so much wide open space and it was also cooler outdoors.

When we were very young, we got enemas with the bulb syringe, but as we got older, we'd receive them from the enema bag which was hung from the towel rack in the kitchen or from the clothesline outside. We'd all undress and wait our turn, watching as the other got his or her enema.

My older sister, Jane, confided one time that she sometimes faked being sick so she would get an enema. I told her that I fantasized about giving her an enema. We both laughed about that, looking forward to that day.

The last time we got a group enema was during the previous Christmas holiday. My sisters were both home from college. The oldest, age 22, said she was getting a stomach ache and it wasn't from any "woman" problem.

"When's the last time you went to the bathroom," mom asked.

"I think it was three days ago," she said.

"I think you need an enema," she said. "Don't you?"

Sis agreed, asking if she should go into the bathroom.

"You're not that old yet, young lady," mom said. "In fact, as long as we're all here, I think this would be a good time for all of you to get an enema, don't you?"

We sort of disagreed, but didn't really disagree as mom went to the bathroom to retrieve the enema syringe and bag. She then mixed up a sink full of warm water, mixed in a small amount of Ivory soap flakes and said, "Okay, girls, young man, time to undress."

"Right here?" we protested, half-heartedly, trying to sound like we didn't want to, but yet didn't want to miss out on this family ritual. We all sort of stood around the kitchen table and took off our, shoes, socks, shirts and slacks, getting down quickly to our underwear, then just stood there.

"Oh, just throw your clothes in the basket there and I'll wash them when we're all done," mom said. "That includes the underwear."

We obediently doffed our underwear, the girls also slipping out of their bras. Jane had fully developed into woman with full breasted the dipped just a little, but still showed her full youthful beauty. Sue, 20, had maintained her "twin peaks" through daily workouts in the gym and playing junior varsity basketball in college.

"Okay Jane, you're the one who couldn't go, you're first," she pointed to my older sister who obediently took a kneeling position on a kitchen chair and leaned over the table, stretching out just a bit with her breasts just touching the table, causing her nipples to harden. Mom spread her cheeks, spread a liberal amount of petroleum jelly and then inserted the syringe before lifting it about a foot or two above my sister's butt.

As the water began to flow, I could see that my sister was enjoying it, although she fainted a bit of discomfort, but kept moving her body on the kitchen table. Mom stopped the flow a couple times, but finally emptied the entire 48 ounces of fluid into her offspring. Jane climbed off the chair and walked cautiously to the bathroom which was just next to the kitchen.

With that, Sue took her turn. She wanted her enema standing up, bending over at the waist to allow mom to make the preparations, jumping just a bit when mom's finger slipped into her butt hole while applying the jelly.

With the nozzle inserted, mom opened the clasp and the liquid flowed for the second time. Sue liked to take her enemas standing up because this gave her a change to move he legs a bit if cramps began to come. She would always do a little dance, sort of on her tiptoes. She had started doing this when she was about 12 or 13. She said it made her relax, but I think this helped her enjoy the enema as it flowed into her body.

The liquid flowed into her quite easily and she accepted all the water in just a couple minutes. Mom said the hold it for a while, then told her to use the downstairs bathroom because Jane was not yet done. This left only me. Mom loaded the bag again, telling me to take "the position I wanted." I preferred to simply bend over, putting my hands on my knees.

With that the jelly was applied and the hose inserted, causing a warm sensation through my body and causing my penis to become erect. My sisters always took notice of this when they had their enemas, but never said anything, believing any comments like this would end our common enema sessions which we all seemed to enjoy. I was not overly endowed, but it was enough to feel good when I brushed against the cold edge of the kitchen table.

Just as I was finished taking the last of the water, my sister came out of the bathroom, allowing me to use this room. I walked by her and she reached out, grabbing my extended appendage as mom's back was turned. This also began the second, and sometimes a third round of enemas, these to rinse. Once we produced a clean flow of water it meant we were cleaned out.

After we were pronounced clean, we would shower and get into fresh clothes. My sisters said they would continue this ritual if they had families and asked if I would do the same.

If you went into the hospital for surgery in the 1940s and '50s, you probably checked in during the late afternoon. You would be shown to your room, helped as needed to get undressed and into a gown, and into bed. Between the time you climbed into bed and when they tucked you in for the night, it's likely that you were given one or more high cleansing enemas.

If you were lucky, the nurses completed your "prep" by visiting hours (from 7 to 9) or did it afterwards, so you wouldn't be embarrassed when your spouse and/or best friend popped in, only to be asked to please wait down the hall. Hopefully, the nurse was discreet. Although my mother (from whom I learned of her hospital pre-surgery experience years ago), remembered a nurse telling my dad that he had to wait to see her because "we're giving her an enema."

A demonstration of an enema being administered with a bulb syringe

Click to watch a demonstration


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