Dulcolax (bisacodyl)

Generic name: bisacodyl (oral and rectal) (bis AK oh dil)
Brand name: Dulcolax Laxative
Drug class: Laxatives

Dulcolax (bisacodyl) is a laxative that stimulates bowel movements.

Dulcolax is used to treat constipation or to empty the bowels before surgery, colonoscopy, x-rays, or other intestinal medical procedure.

Dulcolax tablets generally produce a bowel movement in 6 to 12 hours. Dulcolax suppositories generally produces bowel movements in 15 minutes to 1 hour.


Follow all directions on your medicine label and package. Tell each of your healthcare providers about all your medical conditions, allergies, and all medicines you use.

Before taking this medicine

You should not use Dulcolax if you are allergic to bisacodyl, or if you have:

  • stomach pain, nausea, or vomiting.

Ask a doctor or pharmacist if it is safe for you to use this medicine if you have other medical conditions, especially:

  • a sudden change in bowel habits lasting 2 weeks or longer;
  • hemorrhoids or anal fissures (small tears in the skin tissues around your rectum);
  • ulcerative colitis, inflammatory bowel disease, or other intestinal disorder;
  • a history of perforation (a hole or tear) of your intestines;
  • an eating disorder (anorexia or bulimia); or
  • if you cannot swallow without chewing, if taking Dulcolax tablets.

Older adults should not use rectal Dulcolax without a doctor's advice.

It is not known whether bisacodyl will harm an unborn baby. Do not use this medicine without a doctor's advice if you are pregnant.

It is not known whether bisacodyl passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. Do not use this medicine without a doctor's advice if you are breast-feeding a baby.

Do not give this medicine to a child younger than 2 years old without the advice of a doctor.

How should I use Dulcolax?

Use Dulcolax exactly as directed on the label, or as prescribed by your doctor. Do not use in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended. Overuse of laxatives can cause your bowels to function improperly, or can make you dependent on laxative use.

In some cases, Dulcolax is taken by mouth. The suppository is for use in the rectum.

Do not crush, chew, or break a Dulcolax tablet. Swallow the tablet whole with a full glass of water.

Dulcolax taken by mouth should produce a bowel movement within 6 to 12 hours.

Dulcolax used in the rectum can produce much faster results. You should have a bowel movement within 15 to 60 minutes after using a rectal suppository.

Do not take a rectal suppository by mouth. It is for use only in your rectum.

Try to empty your bladder just before using Dulcolax in the rectum.

Wash your hands before and after using rectal Dulcolax.

To use the rectal suppository:

  • Remove the wrapper from the suppository. Avoid handling the suppository too long or it will melt in your hands. If the suppository is soft, you may hold it under cool running water or refrigerate it for a few minutes.
  • Lie on your left side with your right knee up toward your chest. Gently insert the suppository into your rectum about 1 inch, pointed tip first.
  • Stay lying down for a few minutes. The suppository will melt quickly and you should feel little or no discomfort while holding it in.
  • Do not use more than one rectal suppository per day.

Call your doctor if you do not have a bowel movement after using this medicine, or if you have constipation for longer than 7 days.

If you are using Dulcolax to prepare for a medical test, follow your doctor's instructions about when to use the medicine.

Store Dulcolax oral or rectal medicine at room temperature away from moisture and heat.

Dosing information

Usual Adult Dose for Bowel Preparation:

5 to 15 mg (1 to 3 tablets) orally once a day as needed or
10 mg (1 suppository) rectally once a day as needed or
10 mg rectal liquid once a day as needed.

Usual Adult Dose for Constipation:

5 to 15 mg (1 to 3 tablets) orally once a day as needed or
10 mg (1 suppository) rectally once a day as needed or
10 mg rectal liquid once a day as needed.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Since Dulcolax is used when needed, it does not have a daily dosing schedule.

If you are preparing for a medical test and you miss your dose, call your doctor for instructions.

What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222, especially if anyone has accidentally swallowed a rectal suppository.

What should I avoid before or after using Dulcolax?

Avoid using other medications within 2 hours before or 2 hours after using Dulcolax.

Avoid drinking milk or taking an antacid within 1 hour before you take Dulcolax by mouth.

Dulcolax side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction to Dulcolax: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Stop using Dulcolax and call your doctor at once if you have:

  • rectal bleeding; or
  • no bowel movement after using Dulcolax.

Common Dulcolax side effects may include:

  • stomach pain or discomfort;
  • feeling light-headed; or
  • rectal burning.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

What other drugs will affect Dulcolax?

Other drugs may interact with bisacodyl, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Tell each of your health care providers about all medicines you use now and any medicine you start or stop using.