Together we will beat cancer


Colonoscopy painful? Do we get put to sleep?

26 Jan 2020 19:05 in response to Lloobyloo

Very sorry to hear of your experience. But I can only speak for myself and when I had mine (with sedation, too scared to turn that offer down!) I felt absolutely zero pain. Some odd sort of feelings but nothing that was even moderately painful. I'm FAR from expert but for some reason people seem to have widely differing experiences of this procedure so maybe someone medically experienced can explain why that is? I've always understood that once past the "entry" there were no pain receptors present? But please Lloobyloo don't think I'm disbelieving you it's just that my experience was so different to your's.
But don't forget that it could well save your life...

Colonoscopy painful? Do we get put to sleep?

27 Jan 2020 01:07 in response to Fhard

Hey everyone,


Just to let you know about mine. I left a post in the previous page, last summer. So I had my colonoscopy a while ago (6 months ago) and it was really easy. Preparation went well. I was afraid I would get nausea and throw up because of other condition I have that gets me nausea when I drink water on an empty stomach, but luckily I was on a good day for that.

About the exam, I was put asleep (Propofol) and I just slept. About 25 minutes that felt like a whole night of sleep. No pain, no nothing. When I woke up I was really dizzy, but that went away little by little. 30 minutes later I was normal again. A bit of pain from the gases in the intestines, but nothing special also and it was all gone within one hour or so.

I had two upper endoscopies a few years ago and the colonoscopy was much easier. If I had to do one of them right now, I would choose upper endoscopy tough. I know it does not make much sense but it is only because I know I was lucky to get a good day for the preparation and that would probably not happen again.

By the way, the result was good, not perfect because I have diverticulitis, but the doctor says that is ok and nothing to worry about. It's just a few. I'm a 40 year old man at this point. So I will probably only do another colonoscopy in between 5 and 8 years.


Colonoscopy painful? Do we get put to sleep?

28 Jan 2020 20:54 in response to Fhard

Thanks for your reply . Yes I know it is different for everyone. I had sedation and gas and air but still very painful. I have had a bruised stomach for a few days so maybe I had someone who wasn't very good.

Colonoscopy painful? Do we get put to sleep?

19 Feb 2020 18:44 in response to dad1929

I just had a colonoscopy today and it was the worst pain! I was advised the by the lady who was gonng to do the procedure to have gas and air because I was anxious and she said that the sedative wouldn’t work as well because anxiety blocks the pathways  the sedative uses. I wasn’t offered pain relief. 

It was unbearably painful at points I’m pretty tough but it made me cry. They asked if I wanted to stop and I said yes but then they carried on because they’d nearly finished. They hadn’t! 

I was told that I had a lot of twists and a very long bowel and maybe some IBS that was making it sensitive . I thought it would never end! 

Never again! 

It was all  healthy. My heart goes out to anyone who’s results are bad . To have to go through any of that again must be terrible !  

Colonoscopy painful? Do we get put to sleep?

20 Feb 2020 21:19 in response to madds-

This sounds like the first one I had. No sedative just gas and air which did nothing. I cried throughout and was petrified. The nurse didn't know what to do with me. 

The second time I had one I was given a sedative and I was reclined back so I couldn't feel it so much as they went round. I watched it on the screen. It was a very different experience although I was still terrified as they were checking for a tumour in the bowel.

If you ever have the misfortune of going through it again insist on the sedative and ask about the reclined position instead of on your side. I can't stress the difference it made.

Best wishes


Colonoscopy painful? Do we get put to sleep?

21 Feb 2020 09:45 in response to andrea15
Thanks for that . I hope I never need one again. I’ve reported my concerns that they didn’t stop when I asked them to because it clearly stated in the information leaflet that they would if it was too painful.

Colonoscopy painful? Do we get put to sleep?

8 Mar 2020 14:03 in response to sammy87

I had my procedure at 9am on a Sunday morning, so on Friday night I had to take 6 senna tablets. These give me a bloated stomach within 20 mins but that wore off within half hour. I took them just as I was going to bed, and when I woke up on Saturday morning I had to use the loo

I was allowed a breakfast (low fibre) before 9am then after 9am I was not allowed any solid food at all (all I drank after this was water and one cup of black tea with sugar)

Started MoviePrep at 5pm (first litre) and drank this over an hour. I actually liked the taste, so drank this without any problems. Nothing happened till 19:20 when toilet trips began. Had my second litre at 8pm and remained going to loo till 11pm when it calmed down and I went to bed and slept through. For 4 days prior to Sunday I followed a low fibre diet which I think made the prep easier. 

Woke up early next morning (day of procedure) and had 1 more toilet trip. Got to hospital for 8:10am and was in procedure room by 9:05. The camera honestly is nothing, no discomfort when they put it in, and only some slight discomfort during procedure which I used gas and air for (but I only used it as it was available I could have managed without it) 

I had 6 bopsies taken (you can't feel these) and the whole procedure was over within 30 minutes. I Was out of hospital less than half hour after test finished and was in a local pub having a breakfast by 10:30 (due to not being sedated)

im a 33 year old male 

i hope my post helps alleviate any fears you have. Honestly it's nothing and the NHS staff who will deal with you are lovely (although I was too engrossed in watching the images of my bowel to talk much to the nurse haha) 

Colonoscopy painful? Do we get put to sleep?

6 May 2020 21:23 in response to goldielocks

Hi mine also was mega unbearable pain i had sedation but it did not even touch the pain i felt they did not top up the sedation i had to scream at them to stop which they were trying not to do this was my second one the first was not so deep that hurt but i wasnt sedated and could just about manage to think i had sedation this time and the pain eas off the scale never again will i have it without deep sedation




Colonoscopy painful? Do we get put to sleep?

6 May 2020 21:27 in response to grumpy

I agree with you i asked for sedation i said i wanted to be asleep this i was told was what i would get then on the day they tried to do the procedure with conscious sedation i can tell you thats no sedatiin at all so make sure you get what you think you need 

Colonoscopy painful? Do we get put to sleep?

6 Jun 2020 18:22 in response to Marion2

I have one in a few days struggling with what I can eat! Scared about the prep not that worried about the procedure how long does it take to empty completely like how many hours? Thanks 

Colonoscopy painful? Do we get put to sleep?

11 Jul 2020 18:58 in response to charlottelee

Thanks for all the personal experiences and answers in the thread, really helped me getting mentally prepared for the colonoscopy I have had today.


Thought to write few words myself to encourage people not to be scared by some of the horror stories and definitely go ahead with the procedure or ask for one should there be any concerns about observed symptoms.


For me the biggest problem was drinking all of the prep as you need to absorb around 4L of liquid in relatively short period of time and then of course effect of it but it's all manageable. The procedure itself was delayed by some time as nurses were struggling with cannulation so ended up having 5 attempts conducted by 4 different members of hospital staff to have the needle finally inserted. Of course, that would be specific to me so nothing to worry about there.


I have decided not to have sedative and can say now that was a good choice. The procedure is relatively uncomfortable and that's more less it. Nurses were doing amazing job keeping me distracted from what was going on, laughed many times during the process and only had two brief episodes of moderate pain by the end. I had polyp removed and quite a few tissue samples collected for biopsy - all completely painless and done in about 20 min. Speaking with nurses after - experience like mine is typical for most patients but typically we are hearing more about the bad ones.

Colonoscopy painful? Do we get put to sleep?

12 Jul 2020 14:15 in response to Adam84

I'm pleased to hear that your experience wasn't that unpleasant. Personally when they offered me sedation I was so nervous by that point I jumped at it! I was offered gas and air as well, the description of how to use it was bit sketchy but if I had reached for it I'm sure one of the nurses would have helped.
Overall it sounds as if your experience, like mine, was not too bad and please anybody else reading this don't forget this procedure could save your life.

Colonoscopy painful? Do we get put to sleep?

12 Jul 2020 22:55 in response to Adam84

I had a colonoscopy without sedation a few years ago and only experienced discomfort when the operator was negotiating the bends in the colon. I would happily do the same thing again if my doctor ordered it for me.

As to the preparation. I had to drink 2 litres of Moviprep and vomited when I was trying to drink the last glass of each litre. I would demand a preparation that required a lot less liquid as the preparation was much worse than the procedure. The memory of the sickly, sweet liquid with a chemical smell will stay with me long after the memory of the colososcopy has faded.

Colonoscopy painful? Do we get put to sleep?

14 Oct 2020 18:08 in response to Mabel

Hello, I just wanted to add my 2 cents to this thread as my experience was slightly different to you all, and I found this forum a tremendous help in the few days leading up to my colonoscopy this morning. 


Background: I am a 33 year old male. No symptoms but family history (my Mum suffered from bowel cancer and passed away last year; my aunt had a polyp that was pre-cancerous) meant that my GP referred me for a colonoscopy.


My NHS trust's bowel prep of choice was Citrafleet, so a bit different to the Moviprep experiences you have all had. I started cutting fibre from my diet 4 days before the procedure, and yesterday I drank nothing but a clear liquid diet. I very much recommend something like Lucozade or Dioralyte to help stave off the threat of dehydration. I was also super cold from not eating, so be prepared to wrap up warm.


Citrafleet wasn't unpleasant - a bit of a weird lemon flavour - but I didn't have to cool it down / drink through a straw to make it pallatable. I took the first sachet at 4pm yesterday and had no BMs until roughly 6pm, after which it was somewhat constant until around 7pm. After that I had a trip to the toilet roughly every 30mins until I went to bed at 11pm, worried I was going to wake up in a pool of my own poop!


I set my alarm for 5am this morning and thankfully no such thing had occurred - I slept like a log (pardon the pun). I took the second sachet as soon as I woke up (I was advised 6am, but given I had a 9:45am appointment I took it an hour early) and it got to work much quicker - first BM was roughly an hour later at 6am. This continued right up to around 9am - by this point it was mostly clear with a few flecks of fecal matter. I was worried this meant it hadn't worked correctly, but I was told on arrival that this was indeed fine.


I walked to my hospital roughly 25mins away and was met by pleasant and lovely staff, who were both profressional but also kind and reassuring. We discussed sedative vs entonox gas, and the pros and cons of both, and I decided on the entonox gas. After changing into a gown and some jazzy pants I walked to the theatre and the procedure began after a few practice puffs on the gas/air mixture.


In my experience I would say it was mostly uncomfortable - with a couple of more intense cramping pains when they had to round the corners of my bowel. I had a few drags of entonox during these periods, but otherwise didn't require pain relief. They asked if I wanted to look at the screen but I opted to not look, and instead focused on literally anything else - what I was going to do later today, what my first food was going to be, etc.


They found a polyp (which is rare given my age, but family history means it's ultimately not surprising) which was removed - and was painless. Any periods of bloating/cramp quickly subsided a few seconds later. I won't lie - it's not the most pleasant experience - but everyone is different, and my experience goes to show that it's not all doom and gloom. If you're reading this and you're also anxious/nervous, know that just because one person had a terrible experience it doesn't mean you will, and it's easy to fixate on the negative experiences people post. I would also say that there are a far higher % of people posting on forums that have had a negative experience vs those that have had a positive one, so also bear this in mind.


Once we were done I was wheeled into the recovery area where, due to the entonox, I had to wait 30mins before being discharged. Having had no sedative meant I was free to go home alone, but my wife was with me anyway in case I had the sedative. I was back home and working by 1pm having had the biggest lunch in a long time!


Due to the polyp I'm due to have a colonoscopy again in 5 years, and because of this first experience I'm not nearly as worried as I was this time round. I'm happy to answer any questions if you have them!



Colonoscopy painful? Do we get put to sleep?

3 Dec 2020 12:13 in response to mother321

I know this is in reply to Elaine's post which is 4 years old but I have just had the same sedation levels of the same drugs in 2020. Like Elaine I have a high pain threshhold and these drugs had minimal effect on me. I could feel each stage of the procedure and it was painful. Towards the end when I was clinging onto the nurses hand she gave me Entonox to breath in but it wasn't helpful. I was fully aware of everything that was happening and was able to ask the consultant questions immediately afterwards. I was not the least bit drowsy and was up and dressed within 20 minutes of being back in the recovery room. Although I had been told I wouldn't remember any of the verbal feedback I was given, I not only remember it all but was able to ask sensible and pertinent questions. If I have to have this again, I will insist on higher levels of sedation.