Skip to Accessibility Tools Skip to Content Skip to Footer
Why a colonoscopy is so much more with IBD.

Why a Colonoscopy is So Much More with IBD

It’s no surprise, people can’t stand the thought of getting a colonoscopy. Whether it’s your 60-year-old dad, your grandma or… yourself. Unfortunately for those of us with inflammatory bowel disease, undergoing a colonoscopy is not something we can hold off on until we’re past middle age. For me, I had my first one when I was 21, in the middle of my worst flare… to confirm I had Crohn’s disease.

Now at age 34, I’m already dreading the colonoscopy I scheduled in January.

It’s not the procedure. It’s not getting an IV or not being able to eat in the days leading up. For me it’s so much more. Most people don’t have a care in the world when they get rolled in for a colonoscopy. It’s just a normal, preventative test. For us – this test can show we have inflammation, active disease, that we need to be hospitalized…or the worst case, that we have colon cancer.

I found it interesting that at a recent appointment with my gastroenterologist, she told me she doesn’t make me get annual colonoscopies because she thinks I have active disease. She screens on a yearly basis to make sure I don’t have colon cancer. Oh, how reassuring. According to the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation, once you have battled IBD for more than eight years or if you have more than 1/3 of your colon involved, you are at greater risk for cancer. I’ve battled Crohn’s for more than 12 years, so I get it. It’s not a run-of-the-mill test for me. It’s part of what I need to do to take the reins and make sure we can catch an issue before or while it’s happening, rather than when it’s too late.

Everyone who has gone through a colonoscopy knows the prep is the absolute worst part of it all.

For me, I find fasting and only having liquids for 72 hours before the prep helps ease the experience. Granted, I am starving for three days and probably a little more ‘hangry’ than I’d like to be. Now that I have a baby, the experience prepping for this is really going to be interesting! Don’t worry, I plan to write about it.

I always throw up from the prep, no matter how hard I try not to. I’ve heard you can ask for a nausea medication if you have this problem, so you can have it on hand while doing the prep. I plan to ask this time around. It’s not a good feeling when you throw up and wonder if you got enough of the prep in or not.

My husband is fantastic and actually fasts with me – if he eats a meal he leaves the house and when he comes home he doesn’t even tell me where he went. He rubs my back and helps hold my hair when I’m on the bathroom floor in the early morning hours before the test. He holds my hand as they’re getting me prepped and is there by my bed the moment I wake up and open my eyes. He scopes out restaurants on Yelp and we go for a hearty breakfast afterwards. The feeling of eating after a colonoscopy (as long as you’re not in the hospital) is incredible. He’s amazing. He helps make the whole ordeal so much better. If you can have a family member or friend be there by your side, it makes a world of difference. Especially when you’re told the results of the test.

Just like everything along the IBD journey, those tough (disgusting!) moments are fleeting.

You’ll get through. We always do, don’t we? As long as I find out I’m cancer-free and that I don’t have to change my medications or be hospitalized, I’m golden. Use the test as a way of giving yourself peace of mind. You’re doing everything in your power to get answers and be proactive. And before you know it, it will be time to do it all over again.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • Julie Marie Palumbo moderator
    4 months ago

    Thank you for posting this, Natalie! I never considered what would happen when I have to prep after having my baby!

    Honestly, I don’t mind colonoscopies–and actually have requested them in the past, like 2 months before my wedding and 2 months before trying to get pregnant, just to be sure everything inside looked as good as I felt from the outside. But that being said, the prep is never fun and I am always STARVING until I start the prep and then just feel sick. 🙁 But it is better than the alternative of having active disease and not knowing it!

    –Julie (Team Member)

  • thedancingcrohnie moderator
    1 year ago

    Oh gosh, the prep is definitely the worse. I know my doc has allowed me to do miralax mixed with a liquid that isn’t purple or red of course. I like to mix it with lemonade and its not bad at all. Maybe they will allow you to do it? Cause let me tell you, those preps are so awful. I too would throw up and be in the most horrendous pain.

    Wishing you the best.

    Always dancing,
    Elizabeth (team member)

  • jany
    2 years ago

    I’m so sorry you dread the tests. I changed surgeons, because I would throw up the “crap” withim minutes after drinking that yummy cocktail. Sarcasm..
    I have now suffered for 37 yrs, however, although all my symptoms are identical to Crohns disease, mine was caused by a 104+ fever 4 days after a hysterectomy, causing so much damage to my colon, with a “pelvic infection” later, causing the years of pain, since age 25. The infection was caused in surgery by a sick staff, dirty hands, or unclean surgical instrument. I’ve learned what foods I can eat and what foods will set an attack off.
    My new surgeon realizes I am not normal, and I receive a 2 day prep. 2 days, each day a bottle of magnesium citrate, and 5 black pills. My Last in 2015, he removed 68 polyps, all benign, thank God. My hysterectomy at age 25, was due to cancer cells. Now that I have a Surgeon that believes in me, I go in like a trooper. Unfortunately, I have had 3-4 what I call attacks, the last 2 months which are totally different than anything I have experienced over the past 37 years. They also stopped refilling my pain meds 2 months ago (30 pills last me a year. The ER Dr this last ER visit, practically called me a liar, rolling his eyes throwing his hair back and stated “awe come on”).
    So I had a major attack last weekend, throwing up bile to the point it was hard to swallow. I see my General Dr this Monday, and will not be hateful, but authoritative, with my comment, “am I’m suppose to lie there in serious pain, throwing my guts up, going at both ends, and nothing for relief whatsoever. Just lie there in horrendous pain (worse than labor pains), blood pressure and pulse reaching levels for a stroke or heart attack.
    I am 63, how much more can my colon tolerate. God bless you all who suffer with this disease. Without the diagnosis, I understand fully what each of you have experienced.

  • 2 years ago

    Even before my Crohn’s diagnosis (at age 73), I had regular 5-year colonoscopies. I used to dread the prep, primarily because of the horrible concoction I had to drink. Now, my doctor is using a full container of Miralax dissolved in Gatoraide. The Miralax adds no flavor and it doesn’t affect the consistency of the drink. I drink Gatoraide routinely anyway for hydration after workouts, so it’s no problem at all. Perhaps your doctor would be willing to make the change for you.

  • Poll