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Sigmoidoscopy: What to Expect at Home

Lower digestive system

Your Recovery

A sigmoidoscopy lets your doctor look inside the lower part of your large intestine, or colon. The doctor uses a lighted tube called a sigmoidoscope (or scope).

This test let the doctor look for small growths (called polyps), cancer, bleeding, hemorrhoids, or other problems. The doctor also may have used the scope to remove polyps. Or he or she may have used it to take tissue samples that need to be tested.

You shouldn't have any pain after the procedure. But it is normal to pass gas. You may have mild discomfort from having gas.

If your doctor removed polyps, you will likely need to schedule a colonoscopy to look at the whole colon.

This care sheet gives you a general idea about how long it will take for you to recover. But each person recovers at a different pace. Follow the steps below to get better as quickly as possible.

How can you care for yourself at home?


  • Most people are able to return to work right away unless they have had a sedative during the procedure.
  • You may need someone to drive you home if you have had a sedative. In most cases, you can drive yourself home.


  • You can eat your normal diet. If your stomach is upset, try bland, low-fat foods like plain rice, broiled chicken, toast, and yogurt.
  • Be sure to drink plenty of liquids to replace those you have lost during the preparation for the procedure.


  • You can return to normal exercise right away.


  • Your doctor will tell you if and when you can restart your medicines. He or she will also give you instructions about taking any new medicines.
  • If you take aspirin or some other blood thinner, ask your doctor if and when to start taking it again. Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have new or worse belly pain.
  • You have blood in your stools.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if you have any problems.

Where can you learn more?

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.