Preparing for a colonoscopy -- how to make the process as comfortable as possible, from the Harvard Women's Health Watch

Colonoscopy is especially important for women, because they're more likely to have polyps or lesions deeper in the colon. Only colonoscopy examines the entire length of the colon. Emptying the contents of the colon — a step called bowel prep — is essential to a successful colonoscopy. But there's some reason to believe that bowel prep for a colonoscopy is harder for women than for men, reports the November 2008 issue of Harvard Women's Health Watch.

Women are more likely to be constipated, so it may be more difficult to clear the bowel. Women are also more likely than men to have irritable bowel syndrome, which can cause gas, bloating, and abdominal pain or spasm.

Preparing for a colonoscopy may be uncomfortable and time-consuming, but it needn't be an ordeal. Harvard Women's Health Watch suggests the following to help it go as smoothly and comfortably as possible:

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