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Colonoscopy painful? Do we get put to sleep?

3 Apr 2019 18:52 in response to alternation

I have found that I am losing my hair through worry - also the prep is going to be a real problem for me due to the fact that I have a vegan diet and piles too!

Colonoscopy painful? Do we get put to sleep?

3 Apr 2019 19:03 in response to Maggiev

That does not help 3rd degree piles though. I will be in pain before they even start!

Colonoscopy painful? Do we get put to sleep?

7 Jun 2019 21:17 in response to Anonymous

I'm 66, and have experienced occasional bowel cramp throughout my life. It's a pretty bad pain, but it's only been really bad on about a dozen occasions. I've no idea what brings it on. Anyway, I'm a single man with no one to drive him home, and I get a bad reaction to many drugs, so I decided to get it done without sedation. I was told I could get an inhaled drug during the procedure, often given to women in childbirth, but decided not to take up the offer.

Well, I got the cramp when they inflated the bowel. The procedure lasted about 30 minutes, and it's hard to say how much of that involved bowel cramp, but it was probably less than 3 minutes in total, although it felt like far longer. I can easily understand how someone who has never experienced bowel cramp would 'freak out' if they experienced it for the first time during a colonoscopy. If you've ever had cramp in your leg, it's just like that, but you can't hold it to ease it like you can do with leg cramp. It's bad, but not intolerable.

Colonoscopy painful? Do we get put to sleep?

20 Jun 2019 22:56 in response to Anonymous

I have just had a colonoscopy today for the first time. I'm a 40 year old female who has given birth naturally 3 times, with minimal gas and air, i would consider myself to have quite a high pain threshold. But this procedure was very painful at times. I opted for sedation but was drifting in and out, when the camera goes around the corners it becomes very painful and this brought me around so to speak. I was squeezing the nurses hand and really wincing for a few minutes. The start of the procedure and the end is fine, it's just the middle bit where those corners are. I had quite a large poloyp removed and a few biopsies so I dont know if that made it much worse. I'm pretty sure I was given more sedation at points as I recall the nurse being many mg of something and I dont remember much again. Good news I was in there 40 mins and it seemed like 2 or 3. And I found the moviprep fine, didn't taste that unpleasant and it certainly did its job. 

It's definitely worth it to find out what's going on in there, have all the sedation offered I say.

Colonoscopy painful? Do we get put to sleep?

29 Jun 2019 07:52 in response to WillieD

I don’t usually write reviews but thought I would write about my experience having a colonoscopy on 26/06/19. I am 32 / female. I was very anxious about this procedure so much so that I nearly cancelled my appointment. 

Before my appointment I surfed the internet looking for reviews of what to expect and found a mix of responses. YouTube was the most beneficial to me as you could see the procedure so knew what to expect. 

Moviprep is what it is. It cleanses your bowel so expect lots of tummy grumbles and water flushing through. I was nervous taking this as I suffer from piles and a fissure but it was ok. I used wet wipes to wipe and Vaseline after every bowel movement which kept it comfortable. Taste was ok! 

I was so stressed about having the sedation as I hate the feeling of drowsiness and feeling out of control so debated having this right until I was in the theatre room. I was advised by the specialist doing my colonoscopy to have sedation as I have endometriosis and also had a c-section which encourages adhesions that can stick the bowel to other areas of the body. Adhesions can make the bowl stiff and painful in those areas which is what I struggle with so I do suffer with quite a bit of pelvic pain. 

Due to being anxious I decided to start with a painkiller via cannula only and no sedation. The specialist said he could top up the painkiller or give sedation during the procedure if it got painful. I had 25ml Fentanyl (opiate painkiller) to start. I then upped it to 50ml as felt some discomfort from the gas which totals to half of the allowance they could give me. It it took away the discomfort. The whole procedure was performed with this dose. I completely felt myself (no feelings of drowsiness etc) and I had no sedation. I could feel the tube inside me which felt like pressure even when turning the bends. It was totally manageable. 

Please don’t let this procedure freak you out. I spent days stressing about it and it was over in 15 mins. Where as I know everyone is different I hope you can take comfort from this post as I suffer with pelvic pain and this procedure was performed on me with minimal pain killers. I hope this review helps.

Colonoscopy painful? Do we get put to sleep?

6 Jul 2019 15:36 in response to Kt_bwr

Having had a colonoscopy in May 2019 due to two positive results on the bowel cancer screening programme I thought it might help if I posted my own experiences.
I'm 68, male and with no other health issues except very early stage glaucoma. In fact to make my life even more fun I had my glaucoma investigation on the Thursday morning (confirmed but emminently treatable by using eye drops for the rest of my life) with the colonoscopy scheduled for midday Friday. So back from the eye department and pretty much straight into the MoviePrep having not eaten anything since Wednesday night! The MovePrep is what it is. I didn't find it tasted too bad at all and managed to sip it all down. I would suggest it's worth chilling it though (just seemed to make it more pleasant) and I'm not going to describe the results, I'm sure we can all imagine them! But, again, it's not horrific but I would suggest applying something (Vaseline was my choice) to prevent any soreness developing. If I have to tell you where to apply it then you might want to think a bit more about this!
By the time I felt safe enough to go to bed it was late but I was never going to sleep well anyway. I freely admit to being scared of what the next day would bring. So wife drives me to the hospital and in we go. By this stage with lack of food, being totally empty and pretty much stressed out I was not at my best but everyone, every single person throughout the whole business was SO helpful and SO re-assuring that I started to relax, a little. Was shown how to change into the hospital gown and left to do it. Yes, leave your dignity in the car park, but don't worry you can pick it up again on your way out! Had a cannula put in but if you've ever had blood taken it's just like that and then wheeled in to what I had come to think of as the "Room Of Doom". Me, two delightful nurses and the consultant. Some equipment and a big screen on the wall. I wasn't asked if I wanted sedation but A:- I kind of think they'd decided I needed it and B:- if they had asked I would have said Yes Please! So sedation in. I didn't fall asleep, I remember pretty much all of the procedure (although I would have said it took about ten minutes but it took far longer so maybe I have forgotten some of it?) and was chatting happily away to everyone. But, looking back, I was VERY calm so the sedative obviously worked because I had been near terrified earlier. I watched the screen and can honestly say I felt no pain whatsoever. Just a sort of strange feeling of something moving around inside me but definitely nothing painful at all. The Consultant told me that he had removed one small polyp and that although he was sending it for a biopsy he wouldn't expect it to be of any concern (it wasn't) and then out for a spell in recovery before dressing myself, thanking all the staff I could find and then driven home. Where I slept for about ten hours straight.
OK, I know I've gone on a bit but that is my experience. Basically that procedure could have saved my life and it wasn't in any way anything to fear. I hope your's goes just as well and I'm sure it will.

Colonoscopy painful? Do we get put to sleep?

29 Jul 2019 20:51 in response to goldielocks
Hi, your response has made me feel so much more normal. I really suffered, the sedation had little effect and I’m now left with ‘we are doing a CT scan’. Not sure what that means and a bit worried but it is in the next day or so. Xx

Colonoscopy painful? Do we get put to sleep?

2 Aug 2019 03:45 in response to claireandheranimals

Hi everyone!

I'm 39 and getting my first colonoscopy in 6 days. I am worried about 3 things and it would be great to get some opinions about the 3 of them or at least about this first one:


1 - I have been reading all the comments in this thread and in many other places in the internet, but very few comments include information about the previous state/symptoms that each one of you had when you went to do the exam.

At this point and for the past 30 days, I've been getting slight but permanent pains in the abdominal area. Also, permanent disconfort and, the worst of it, soft but permanent pain in the rectal/anus area in such a way that it seems like I always have to go to the toilet to flush something out. Sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn't. But even when it happens the sensation does not go away for more than just a few minutes.

So, my question is:

Did you have any of these symptoms in the day you went to do the colonoscopy? How did they affect it?

I fear that I have some very sensitive intestines/bowel and that for being sensitive they are at a higher risk of perforation. Is this a reasonable thought?


2 - I have a very short experience with sedation and anaesthesy but it is enough to get the sense that I usually need higher doses to get the effect and also the sense that they only start doing effect a bit later than expected. I happened a couple of times before when I had other medical interventions.

So, this is something I'm also worried about. That I don't get enough to fall asleep with no pain and what I mention in the 1st point gets really painful and unconfortable. Or that they realise I need more and then I get a dose that is too high and I get negatively affected by that.


3 - The third thing I'm worried about is the preparation. Not because of the taste of the "laxative" as I usually can tolerate any taste no matter how unpleasant it may be for other people. 

The problem is that I have some gastric condition (undiagnosed) that makes me tend to get nausea and vomits in the first hours of the day when I wake up. If I start the day with fresh liquids (water, juices, etc) it gets very much worse and it is almost impossible to hang with it without throwing up.

I have it kind of controlled with antihistaminics (yes, no idea why these help, but they do), but even like this, if I start the day with fresh liquids I end up throwing all them up very quickly. So, I'm worried that the day of the exam is one of these bad days (like 3 out of every 5 days) when I can't really bear liquids before I have solids. And if I throw up in the same day I think they can't perform the exam.

I told this to the (man) nurse who is following me for this exam but he couldn't care less about it. I told him I was planning to it differently. My exam is scheduled for 5PM. So I told him I was planning to go to bed very late the night before so that I would do the preparation the night before.

I would get the first dose of "laxative" at 11PM, then the second dose at 3AM and then try to sleep at around 6-7AM. I would then sleep until 1.30PM, have just a hot tea at 2PM and then wait these 3 hours until 5PM without drinking anything (which is not a problem at all for me).

But he says that they do the exam in the evening because if you sleep for 6-8 hours after taking the preparation the exam may not go as well as it should, because of acid reflux production in the stomach that then goes to the intestine. I find it difficult to accept this excuse because I know that many colonoscopy's are scheduled to the morning and so people do the preparation the night before and it is not a big deal.


I also have a fast bowels movements. Not diarrhea, they are soft but solid, but it comes out really fast like as if I had a meal 1 or 2 hours before and it is already coming out. I am the exact opposite of a constipated person. So it is much easier for me to have my intestines completely clean.

Besides that I am also a person who can be just fine without eating anything for hours and hours. I'm the kind of person who coul probably even do the preparation (cleaning the intestines) without any laxative, just with diet in the previous 3 days. So, in that sense, the preparation is not a problem, I just worry about the fresh liquids after waking up.


Any opinions? Would be good to know what you think, especially in the number "1" listed above.



Colonoscopy painful? Do we get put to sleep?

17 Aug 2019 14:11 in response to davek

Hi Dave 

I dont know if you will get this reply but thatnk you so mush for your information it has helped me make a decision not to have sedation and to ask some questions prior to the proceedure when i get there. One of them being how many times has the doctor done the proceedure and how many times has the doctor done the proceedure without sedation, whicch after reading what you had to say and then clicking the link and reading the article of which was very intersting I feel a lot calmer about the whole thing. 

It seems that the purging is the worst of which i will be starting this coming Sunday 18/08/2019 at 17:00hrs BST.



Colonoscopy painful? Do we get put to sleep?

10 Oct 2019 16:27 in response to james_

Hi all,

So, after reading every single persons experience on colonscopy i thought i would add my experience.

Firstly a bit about me!  I have extreme anxiety.  I get anxious at the dentist...seriously and thats even the hygeneist. Im actually not bad with pain though and i fear more drugs than pain.  I had upper endoscopy without sedation, theres no pain in that but my heart was 124bpm the entire procedure, i had egg retrieval in ivf with only one dose of sedation but my heart sped up the second it hit so i endured the rest of the procedure with no more (im that kind of nervous with drugs and i just am terrified of that woozy feeling, i dont even like getting too tipsy)!!

So first the prep.  Literally for me the worst ever. Might be that drug thing again but i swore it made me drowsy and muscle weakness which funny was on the insert.  I left 50ml of both morning and night doses. I had Plenvu. So sweet, so disgusting. The 450ml on both done the job in clearing me out.

The colonscopy. Went in, told them my sedation phobia so agreed to put needle in incase i changed my mind.  But my heart (as usual) was racing and he wasnt happy to proceed with it in Tachy. So we agreed on half the dose...well if he thought it was fast before!!!  So it started. Going in i barely felt. Going round the first corner was painful (crampy) but over as wuick as he got around it. Then he hit a double loop, or 2 corners close together.  Well the pain was terrible (crampy again) but its doable. But because im so anxious and was already still dealing with the woozy feeling anxiety i was getting worked up.  So he had 3 painful attempts to get round it.  Eventually he said “i need to get round this to see the right side can i give you the last dose and go round when it hits”. So thats how we proceeded.

All in all id say labor pains were worse. I think colonscopy would be better managed with gas and air like labor pains.  Its crampy type pain. For me, when i get bowel cramp at home id walk it off, so for me it was being pinned in the one place not being able to help myself was the bigger issue with the pain.

Pain is only experienced on bends, and sedation for me did help with this. 

Not as bad (apart from prep) as i was expecting


Colonoscopy painful? Do we get put to sleep?

27 Nov 2019 12:06 in response to Anonymous

I had a siegmoidoscopy yesterday and, quite frankly, I would rather give birth again. It was the most horrendous experience. I am now supposed to have a colonoscopy, but unless they knock me out completely I will never have that done again. And they had the cheek to write on the result form that I was "comfortable" throughout. I most certainly was not. Dreadful experience.

Colonoscopy painful? Do we get put to sleep?

1 Dec 2019 14:35 in response to REDFOX1


I'm sorry to hear of your painful experience. I wonder why you were not referred for a colonoscopy as it looks at the entire colon not just the lower part. Good luck with the colonoscopy and try not lose sight of why you are having it. I don't know if you can be put to sleep but I'm sure they will sedate you when you tell them of your experience.

Best wishes .

According to Dr Google:

"Colonoscopy and sigmoidoscopy are screening tests that use a thin flexible tube with a camera at the end to look at the colon but differ in the areas they can see. A colonoscopy examines the entire colon, while a sigmoidoscopy covers only the lower part of the colon, also known as the rectum and sigmoid colon. 27 Feb 2019".

Colonoscopy painful? Do we get put to sleep?

11 Dec 2019 07:31 in response to Mabel

Hi everyone. I had to go for a colonoscopy yesterday as I have been suffering with going to the toilet too often. I was so apprehensive about having the procedure done. I had to take 3 sachets of a clear out solution in the days prior. This was actually not too bad. The actual procedure of the colonoscopy was pain free. It didn't hurt at all. I don't think the sedation they gave me worked too well as I felt everything and remember everything even now after the procedure. I just wanted to post this on here in case anyone is worrying about having a colonoscopy done... Dont, it's absolutely fine. Thankfully the results were clear bar a small polyp that was removed there and then causing no pain. There are no nerve endings in your bowel so the whole procedure and camera can't even be felt.  So...if you get asked if you want to be referred for a colonoscopy, do it. It's worth it. I hope this helps someone


Colonoscopy painful? Do we get put to sleep?

5 Jan 2020 19:17 in response to Dadto3

After all the advice I have received trawling thru various forums like this, the least I can do is add to it, to reinforce the positive aspects of having a colonoscopy. Remember this: some people volunteer for these procedures and others pay large sums for colonic irrigation too!!!

I felt I benefitted the most from in depth replies, so here goes:

I am a male, aged 64. October 2019 - went to A and E with bleeding from rear passage. This was a first for me. The doctor did a DRE and found nothing (which was the reason for a referral to the GP. Apparently, if no-one can find the cause of bleeding - provided you are over 50, you automatically go onto ther "urgent bowel cancer screening treadmill"??)

70 days after A and E (NHS wales target is 62 days), It was time for the procedure.

I was sent a pack of Laxido laxitives to be taken twice a day for 6 days - resulting in nothing really??  Apparently they simply make your stools softer??

I followed the instructions for Moviprep cleanser to the letter and the day before - ate very little. No more solids after 6pm. Appointment was for 1.45pm:

On the day and at 5am I was told to drink 1lr of movieprep. I had read horror stories about this preperation. So the best tips for me were: make it up the night before and chill it overnight. I also added elderflower cordial. These two things alone made it absolutely palatable. No problems at all. I drank a 250ml glass every 15 mins easily (and thru straws). Read a funny book and 45 mins after starting the prep, my bowels opened (big time). Tap On...tap OFF!!! for about an hour. First session lasted between 5am and 7am.

Then 1 hour respite (in bed).  Stage 2 was a repeat of stage 1 between 8am ish to 10am ish.

In between and after stage 2, I drank a glass of 250ml of water with electrolytes in it (diarolyte) to bolster my system.

All done by 11am.  Drank water till 1pm (on and off).

Arrived as appointed @ 1.45pm.  VERY friendly staff dealing with a production line of similar cases (20/day, 7 days a week).

Asked if I wanted gas and air or sedation.  I asked the nurse what was her experience and she said women usually have the sedative and men the gas and air. She found this strange as she thought women endured pain better than men! I asked her what she would do in the circumstances and she said sedative - I took her advice.

Needle into arm (painless), 15 minute wait and consultant comes out for a chat:

Men are simple he says! Take us 15 minutes, job done. Women are more complex plumbing and take around 30 minutes.I'll tell you the results immediately.

Went in, hooked me up to O2 monitor / oxygen temporarily / blood pressure monitor / sedative (one off shot through IV).

Don't remember being woozy/out of sorts. Felt completely "with it". Watched everything and it seemed over in a flash - didn't feel anything  at all!! Lots of explanations from consultant and lots of piccies. From arriving @ 1345, procedure complete @ 1450. Into recovery room for 30 mins for a gorgeous cup of tea and biscuits and bags and bags of TLC.

I love the NHS.

Fear factor leading up to prep and op: High.

Prep pain: Nil.

Prep discomfort: Nil.

Colonoscopy pain: Nil.

Colonoscopy discomfort: Nil.

All clear, no polyps, no biopsy.  But found diverticilitis in several places (lifestyle ailment based around diet). Easily remedied.

Overall:  Much ado about nothing!

Any questions?

Colonoscopy painful? Do we get put to sleep?

25 Jan 2020 21:18 in response to sammy87

Hi folks. Yesterday I. had a colonoscopy and I can honestly say even with sedation it was one of the most painful experiences of my life. Never would I have this again unless I am fully asleep.