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Readers Respond: What Is a Colonoscopy Like?

Responses: 91


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!

Share Your Experience!

Upper Endoscopy and Colon scope together

IBS-C & I started eliminating fiber from my diet over a week prior. Prescribed Go Lightly and started in AM vs PM. Mixed the solution w/ crystal light lemonade packets to help as the taste was very nauseating for me. My dr even gave me some valium to help calm me because I get very anxious about possible vomiting or screwing up the prep. I didn't start going for 4 hours. I asked to be put out for the procedures because I've tried to remove the scope in panic before. It took them 3 times to get me to fall asleep which was apparently a record for my size. Everything was ok except the dr had difficulty maneuvering as apparently my colon is longer and shaped like a M. That explains the IBS-C!! I do dread the next prep in 8 yrs and I hope other options are developed by then. My dr even asked if I finished the prep because I was not clean. My husband told her the jug is displayed like a trophy.
—Guest Guest AEM


Found it painful, would like to know why? The Dr. said I would have to be put under anesthesia next time but don't know why. He never talked to me afterward, just my husband and didn't say why to him.
—Guest Diane Schroeder

Do Your Research!

This is my second time for a colonoscopy/endoscopy. First was a nightmare. Extremely abusive gastro. Awake during entire procedure, unbelievable pain. When I asked him to stop, I was mocked. After, I was mocked due to pain sensitivity and severe IBS. This time I researched when discovered with chronic anemia and after iron infusion, referred to GI. Explained openly about prior experience and that I have PTSD/anxiety. VERY important: If you suffer from chronic illness or have past trauma, settle for nothing less than a general anesthesia. This is what I'm getting this time. Today is liquid diet day, tomorrow the prep. Last time, I was in tears by round 2. Did more research this time, hope it goes more smoothly. The prep should be the 'worst' of it. Do not settle for anything less than a GI with empathy and conscience. You will pay for it if you don't. Do not be afraid to ask for a general. Go elsewhere if you do not get it. If you are pain sensitive, you should not be mocked.
—Guest K


i have got to have a Colonoscopy on the 25th of feb i don.t know what to expect a nurse is going to phone me on monday to me about the procedure its like i.m in the dark about the whole thing i hate needles lol


On my first colonoscopy many years ago polyps were found, non-cancerous, so I have had several colonoscopies over the years. I have never had a problem with any of them. The worst part of the process is the gallon of prep liquid I've had to drink for each exam to get the colon cleaned out. The exam itself is no problem, and I have always had just enough pain meds so I was pain free, but awake, to watch and have the doctor explain the exam as he was doing it. And the recovery is quick. I find them to be no problem. And on my last exam I had polyps again. So I am very grateful to be able to get the exams and prevent cancer from starting. Everyone should have them when their doctor suggests it.

my colonoscopy

I had one this morning. Other than yesterday's prep, today was nothing. Nice staff, good anesthesia, hardly felt or remembered a thing, and I feel fine now.
—Guest Anna

Nothing to worry about

I just had a colonoscopy and endoscopy. The 3 days prep was the worst part but in reality wasn't too bad. I suffer anxiety and was very worried about the sedation involved and also what might be found. On the day the Dr put me at ease and told me not to worry. Before I knew it I was sat up in recovery drinking a cup of tea and munching on a few biscuits! The chances of a bad reaction to the sedation are very slim. I thankfully got the all clear of anything serious but had the bad news come at least I would have the chance to get things sorted which is obviously the best option. My heart does go out to the people who do not get the good news and I wish them a speedy recovery.
—Guest nathan baldwin


I just got done having the colonoscopy done. The prep was ok. I didn't like the medicine at all but everything went good and went by fast. I hope I don't have to get another one done again.
—Guest satoria


i just had one done, it was awful, I thought the doctor was pulling my insides out. I sat up several times and told him to stop, the sedation was not enough and they would not give any more, never again.
—Guest dermi

Twice both very different

Had my second colonoscopy yesterday and after a Christmas of over indulging was quite thankful for the clear out haha!! It's only 3 days of your life and really not that bad, just make sure you take the laxatives well before bed time as unfortunately took mine a little late and was on toilet all night before. Had gas and air, wasn't offered to be knocked out and told sedative is not a painkiller so pretty pointless unless you are really upset. It is very uncomfortable on the bends but gas and air takes the edge off (and I'm a proper wuss). FORCE YOURSELF TO PASS WIND all way through it stops the tummy cramps. I'd rather do that in front of everyone than have the pain!! Must say my first one was more painfull than this time, but nurse said everyone is different and each time is different too. It lasted 45 mins and we'll worth finding out I had colitis that can be treated. Get it done, the discomfort out weighs the benefits. Good luck you will be fine xx
—Guest Guest million

Quick response by RN

As someone with chronic diarrhea, I didn't find the prep much worse than some of my attack days (I mean, the prep didn't have the pain of an attack!). However, I was screaming within 30 seconds of starting the procedure. Immediately, I heard the RN say "don't worry, I'm going to push more pain meds." I was knocked out; when I awoke and started crying, she knocked me out again. I don't think my response was typical though: my GI brought up this possibility as a rarity in the risk review - a small portion of iBS sufferers have overly sensitive nerve endings that cause pain, and now we know I am one of them. I NEVER want to go through hat again, but if I ever had to, I might be willing if I was under full sedation, not the conscious sedation originally planned. I'm glad we can use the results but it was rough.
—Guest Lori

Consequences of refusing

After being told that I did not have prostate cancer, but due to a low blood % it was decided a colonoscopy would be the next on the list, I was ask if I would like any type of pain killer which I regretfully refused, after a short time of discomfort the doctor remarked, I found the cancer, which I admit was a surprise to me. I am now recovering from surgery 3 years ago. I think of the consequences if I had refused the colonoscopy.
—Guest Sam

Really Not That Bad!

I had my first colonscopy today (in the UK, under the NHS). I am 26 and a nervous patient but I can honestly say this was not that big a deal! It's not fun, but it's really not that bad either - speaking as somebody with a fear of needles I definitely found getting the cannula put in the worst bit! You dont feel the scope going in. I felt some discomfort a few times - cramp-type pain - but it was bearable with the gas & air they give you to take the edge off. (I found it was more strange sensations than pain - feeling like you were going to the toilet when they were pulling it out, feeling the air they pump in, strange little feelings when they take biopsies etc!) I was surprised by the sedation however which I found very minimal - I was very aware throughout and seemed to only get enough sedation to take the edge off the nervousness. But as I say, it was fine. I was up and out 15 mins after they wheeled me through. Wouldn't be phased about having another one now :)
—Guest UKGuest

Be brave

After reading on here i was really scared to get it done, but i did without any pain relief at all. Yes it hurt a bit but nothing too bad, just uncomfortable. Why do people write their horror stories on here? i will never know!
—Guest Trudy

Worth doing

I found the prep challenging, but doable. It certainly wasn't fun, but you can do it. I tried not to think about it while downing the gallon of laxative mixture. I followed the instructions closely. The pharmacist made some good suggestions, too, such as stirring often and drinking plain water in between. (The laxative can cause dehydration). For the actual procedure, they asked if I wanted to be awake or asleep. I decided to forgo the drugs and stay awake. There were times it was quite uncomfortable, but not unbearable. I was glad I stayed awake as it required almost no recovery afterward. However, I'm pretty determined. I am glad I did it, do not look forward to another, but will do one to take care of my health when necessary.

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What Is a Colonoscopy Like?

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