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Readers Respond: What Is a Colonoscopy Like?

Responses: 27


Updated February 13, 2013

From the article: Colonoscopy

Many people find the idea of undergoing a colonoscopy to be a bit intimidating. However, since the test serves such an important diagnostic role, particularly in preventing colon cancer, it would help to ease anxiety to hear from others as to what the process is really like. If you have undergone a colonoscopy, please share your experience here. Tell us what it was like to prep for the exam and how you felt during the exam. Just think, your input might just save someone else's life!

Not what I expected

I heard so much about this procedure and was terrified. I was awake throughout the entire procedure and felt absolutely no pain. I got home and was just still drowsy but still pain free. I am back to work the next day and it was like I never had one. They removed 2 polyps and told me that I may have oozing but I haven't noticed any. I am diabetic and couldn't use any gatorade for the laxative. It tasted terrible but I managed to drink it all.

Not what I expected at all!

I went for my first colonoscopy today.The procedure started relatively pain free, but I started to feel discomfort when the bowel was inflated.This discomfort turned into excruciating pain and as a result of the ongoing pain, I started to hyperventilate, which resulted in severe pins and needles in both arms and legs. The doctor told me to try and relax as I was causing the bowel to spasm and he couldn't get the camera around the bend.This pain and anxiety lasted for so long that I heard the doctor ask the nurse if I had had a cannula inserted so they could give me some sedative, as I was rolling around the bed and crying out in severe pain. At no point did the doctor offer to stop the procedure or ask if I was able to carry on! The nurse seemed to be starting to panic because I was waving my arms around trying to get some sensation back into them. After the procedure ended I felt humiliated and violated and burst into tears when I got home. Never again!!!!!
—Guest rb1971

Easy prep

My dr suggested tablets. I recommend those to all!!! I had to pay $129 at pharmacy but would do it again with no problem. Took pills and drank apple juice and Gatorade. About 2 hrs of cleaning out in bathroom and was done by 8 pm. Great!
—Guest mary steele

worse than i thought

Had the procedure Tuesday prep was ok had to take two litres the colonoscopy worst pain since childbirth the doctor seem to think it may have been painful because I had a womb I think she didn't have the experience to do this procedure
—Guest Sandy

not too bad

I'm 25 and had a colonoscopy and endoscopy done on the same day. I have been having abdominal pain, one doctor said IBS and another seems to think its a functional gallbladder disorder. Either way the procedure was done to rule out any other diagnosis. I was nervous and did some research about the procedure and after my experience would not have a problem with having one done again if needed. The prep started the day before, only clear liquids, 2 dulcalax tablets, 64 oz of Gatorade and a whole bottle of miralax. By the end of the night I was passing neon yellow liquid, from the Gatorade. I had to get up about three times in the night to go to the bathroom and had to go more in the morning after finishing off the mixture. I was sedated and told that I was going to get sleepy, the next thing I know I'm being woken up and the procedure was done. I was a little loopy for about a half hour afterward but came out of it pain free.
—Guest JP

I don't remember if...

The prep was a breeze---I had 5 oz. packets prep. During the actual colonoscopy procedure, I don't remember if I was in pain; but I do remember moaning through the whole thing and feeling about a 1 second pain incident (not sure why that was). I also remember the Dr asking to hold "her" stomach in and someone pulling my stomach in. Again I don't remember any pain so I don't remember why I was moaning. But I hear that some patience are in pain during the procedure, but they don't remember that they were hurting after its over... maybe that's my experience.
—Guest kb

Colonoscopies aren't to bad

I'm going for my 2nd. With the first one I did the GoLyly prep. Never again! It was horrible. The procedure was very easy. Now going for my 2nd and using a new prep kit called propopik. Only have ten oz.of meds and 16 oz.of liquids. Not bad at all. Ita supposed to taste better as well. We will see and I will keep y'all updated and tell ya how it went.
—Guest Allie


Having my first colonoscopy surgery friday. I am a little nervous and scared at the same time.
—Guest tracy

Can Save Your Life

I had my first colonoscopy and found that I have stage 2 rectal cancer - colorectal cancer can present without any symptoms, and catching cancer early is important, so HONESTLY the prep and hour of your time to have this done is VERY much worth it!
—Guest bnatural

sometimes ... it's horrific

I have had 2 colonoscopies. The first was unremarkable and pain free. However, sometimes things can go really, really badly. I have had 3 children without any sort of pain relief whatsoever. One of them was an abnormal and difficult presentation. Painful sure but tolerable. The colonoscopy that I had two days ago was off the pain scale. I was give sedation and then again when I started to yell. I was groaning, thrashing and in extraordinary pain. As someone who has had this procedure more than once, I know that, for most people, it's a little uncomfortable at worst. When it goes badly, it is very, very bad. I was trying to pull myself out of the fog enough to tell them to stop. I know now that I said it several times and they just restrained me harder. I am left with a damaged hip joint and a bad pain in my abdomen. So all of you smug people who say "not bad at all" BEWARE. I said that once too. I will never, ever go again. No words strong enough to describe the pain.
—Guest merrywood10


I was terrified at the mention by my doctor that I needed one. I went to walgreens bought a 10oz bottle of Lemon Magnezum Citrate. A small box of Ducolux laxative, 2 32 oz of green gatorade, 1 bottle of Miralax. Drank the magnesum cirtrate, which is like a lemon alka selzer, not bad. 2 hrs later took 2 ducolax laxative pills, started to go to bathroom in about 1/2 later. Started to drink the miralax and gatorade chilled every 15 mins. only 1 cup at a time. Went to bathroom regularly until my stool was yellowish clear. Use lotion and kleenex tissue, helps! Next day, no food only clear liquids for 2 days, was starving! No liquids 6 hours before procedure. Nurse put an iv, feed me some sedation, was in heaven, did not feel a thing! Went in at 3:30 pm was out by 4:45. A breeze! No problem no horror stories. Just do it! It is not bad at all! This was my first at April 3rd, 2012. The prep is not bad, does not taste bad, use gatorade with miralax. No longer scared, can do it again in a NY minute.

Test is easy, the sedation was terrible!

The prep was tolerable as was the actual exam. I was told that the Versed/fentanyl combo (the most common drugs) would induce a pleasant "twilight sleep". Nothing could have been further from the truth; the drugs made me extremely anxious but unable to move or communicate, but I felt every bit of the painful exam. One nurse was concerned that I was sweating and moaning in pain, but the doctor told her: "the Versed will prevent him from remembering any of this". Wrong, I remember it all and it was awful; the worst part was that I wasn't informed that Versed was an amnestic drug and that it has no pain-relieving properties; the small amount of fentanyl (painkiller) does little. A nurse told me that they like to give Versed since it's a "patient control drug" and that it prevents most people from remembering the test no matter how painful it was (at least until they get home). I will never get so-called "twilight sleep" again; check out askapatient.com for Versed horror stories.
—Guest 51MGTD

easy peasy

The prep was nasty. The procedure was fine. I did get sedatives per request and honestly menstrual cramps are worse than this procedure. At least for me.
—Guest betsy


i am going in for a colonoscopy. this will be number 11 for me. i am using a brand new prep, it taste like cherry but it is real nasty. it is called suprep bowl prep kit.
—Guest carol

easy and comfortable

Easy! Hardest part was liquid. I drank lots of water, clear juices and flavored seltzers. I took 4 Dulcolax pills at 1:00 p.m. the day before procedure. At 5:30 p.m. I began drinking the PEG, 8oz every 15 min for an hour (4 doses). The effects did not kick in for about 2 hours. I had no cramping or pain....just some "urgent moments" for about 2-3 hours. At 5:30 a.m. I drank another four rounds of PEG. The effects kicked in very quickly this time. By 7:00 am I was totally cleaned out. No urgency after that .The staff made me feel at ease. The worst part was the waiting. I was quickly put to sleep and awoke about 40 minutes later. Sleepy most of the day but no problems. DO IT!

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