We won’t sugarcoat it: a colonoscopy won’t be the highlight of your year. Clearing out your bowels so a doctor can peek up your butt hole isn’t an ideal experience—and that’s why so many people put it off.
The CDC recommends colorectal cancer screening for every adult between 45 and 75 years old. However, 1 out of 3 of people in that age group haven’t had a colonoscopy. C’mon, DUDES.
A colonoscopy is the best way to spot colon and rectal cancer while it’s treatable. It can also spot colon polyps, which are small growths that can develop into colorectal cancer. Getting this procedure can give you peace of mind regarding your gut health. But you need a week of bowel prep before the big day to ensure everything goes smoothly down there.
In this guide we’ll walk you through the entire week leading up to the day of the colonoscopy, including what to eat, what to drink—and how to wipe.
How to Prepare for Your Colonoscopy
The whole point of colonoscopy prep is to flush all the poop out of your colon. This allows the doctor to see far enough into your large intestine. If there’s poop in your bowels, it can affect the results and may require you to reschedule the procedure.
The entire colonoscopy preparation process takes about a week. During that time, you’ll make some specific diet changes and drink laxatives to flush your gut. Your healthcare provider will likely give you colonoscopy prep instructions, but we’ll cover the basic timeline below.
3-5 Days Before Your Colonoscopy
During the week leading up to a colonoscopy, you’ll need to tweak your diet. Fiber is usually your friend, but when you’ve got a colonoscopy coming up, you’ll want to eat a low-fiber diet to keep your colon empty.
Foods to eat:
- White rice, bread, and pasta
- Milk, cheese, and yogurt
- Canned or cooked vegetables (no skin)
- Lean meat, chicken, and fish
Foods to avoid:
- Whole grains, such as brown rice and oatmeal
- Nuts and seeds
- Whole kernel corn
- Raw fruits and vegetables
Your gastroenterologist may also tell you to steer clear of medications that increase the risk of bleeding during a colonoscopy, such as blood thinners and ibuprofen.
Two Days Before Your Colonoscopy
48 hours until the big day—that means it’s time to hydrate like crazy. Spoiler alert: you’re going to be shitting liquid tomorrow, so make sure you drink plenty of water to reduce the risk of dehydration. Even better, grab a sports drink with electrolytes (just make sure it’s not red or orange, as these can be mistaken for blood during the procedure.)
24 Hours Before Your Colonoscopy
Solid foods are off limits the day before a colonoscopy. You’ll need to stick to a “clear liquid diet,” but that doesn’t mean you’re limited to water. As a rule of thumb, if you can see through the liquid, you can have it.
Here are some popular menu options:
- Clear broth or bouillon
- Coffee (no milk or creamer)
- Sports drinks like Gatorade
- Gelatin or Jell-O
- Strained fruit juice (no pulp)
By now, your colon will be almost cleared out—but there’s one more thing you’ll need to finish the job: laxatives. Doctors often prescribe oral solutions that turn your bowel movements into clear or yellow diarrhea. Some common colonoscopy prep solutions are GoLytely, Colyte, Suprep, and MiraLAX.
Be warned that these can cause nausea, bloating, cramping, and dizziness. Make sure you’re near a toilet at all times (with plenty of DUDE Wipes).
Colonoscopy Prep Tips
We asked DUDE Nation for their colonoscopy prep advice, and they have some valuable wisdom to share.
1. Stock Up On DUDE Wipes
You’re going to be pooping a lot more than usual, especially during the 24 hours before your colonoscopy. Accordingly, you’ll want to clean your rear with flushable DUDE Wipes instead of dry toilet paper. This will prevent the dreaded Polished Anus Syndrome.
2. Wear Comfortable Clothes
Speaking of frequent bowel movements, you’ll need to be able to strip down quickly when you get the urge to go. Wear comfy, loose-fitting shorts or sweatpants that are easy to pull down.
3. Mask the Taste of Your Laxative
Laxative drinks are notorious for tasting awful. But you don’t have to suffer in silence. Here are a few tips to make your poop potion more palatable:
- Mix in some Crystal Light or Kool-Aid powder (just make sure it’s not red, blue, or purple)
- Add some ginger or lime
- Drink it cold
- Clean your palate with a soft drink like root beer
Countdown to Colonoscopy
We know it sucks having to replace pizza and beer with laxatives and soup. And unleashing liquid feces for 24 hours is no walk in the park. But a few days of bowel prep is worth a lifetime of health.
Colon cancer may be one of the most common forms of cancer, but it’s also treatable and preventable if doctors catch it early. So get in there (or rather, let your doctor get in there) and take charge of your health.
It’s the most important pain in the ass you’ll ever get.