How Long Does PicoPrep Take to Work?

One crucial step in preparing for a colonoscopy is using a bowel cleansing agent like PicoPrep. This agent ensures that your doctor has a clear view of your colon, making the procedure as effective as possible. If you’re scheduled for a colonoscopy and have been prescribed PicoPrep, you might be wondering about its effectiveness and timing. Here’s a detailed look into how long does PicoPrep take to work and what you can expect during the process.

Understanding PicoPrep

PicoPrep is a commonly prescribed bowel cleansing agent used before colonoscopies. It helps clear the intestines of fecal matter, providing a clean environment for the procedure. The active ingredients in PicoPrep are sodium picosulfate, magnesium oxide, and citric acid, which work together to induce bowel movements and flush the colon.

How long does PicoPrep take to work?

PicoPrep may cause several bowel movements. It could work within 2 to 4 hours after ingestion. However, this can vary from person to person. The entire process can take anywhere from 12 to 24 hours. Patients are often advised to stay close to a bathroom as the effects can be sudden and intense.

What exactly is PicoPrep used for? 

PicoPrep is used to remove and clean intestinal contents before a doctor’s examination or procedure. It permits your doctor to view the inside with ease. It is sometimes used to clear the colon before a kidney-specific x-ray. It accomplishes this by operating on the intestine and colon, causing a watery stool or bowel motion to flush the intestinal contents. This may be a little painful, but it is necessary for the examination.

The type of examination will decide the procedure used. One type includes introducing a particular tool into the gut, allowing the doctor to see within. Another possibility is that you will be given an enema into your colon containing a substance that shows up on the x-ray. 

Before the operation, you should consult with your doctor about what will happen. Your doctor, however, may prescribe PicoPrep for a different reason. If you have any questions about why PicoPrep was prescribed to you or how to use it, consult your doctor.

When taking PicoPrep, you should notify your doctor or pharmacist of any new medications you are starting. 

  • Do not use any additional medications, whether prescribed or not, without first visiting your doctor.
  • Inform your doctors and pharmacists that you are taking PicoPrep. 
  • Inform your doctor if you did not take your medication exactly as directed. 

What you should not do: 

  • Take half the dose or none. 
  • Give the medicine to someone else. 
  • To avoid watery bowel motion with PicoPrep, postpone other activities until after the exam.

Tips for Effective Use of PicoPrep

  • Diet: Before you start with PicoPrep, it’s recommended to switch to a clear liquid diet at least 24 hours before your procedure. Avoid any solid foods, and opt for broths, teas, and clear juices.
  • Hydration: Staying hydrated is crucial. PicoPrep causes significant fluid loss, which can lead to dehydration if not managed properly. Drink plenty of water and electrolyte-replenishing beverages.
  • Follow Instructions: Be meticulous with the instructions provided by your healthcare provider. This includes timing your doses and dietary restrictions to maximize the effectiveness of the prep.

Potential Side Effects

While PicoPrep is effective, it can have side effects, most of which are related to the digestive system:

  • Cramping: As your intestines clear, abdominal cramping is common.
  • Nausea and Vomiting: Some people may feel nauseous or even vomit after taking PicoPrep. If vomiting occurs, contact your healthcare provider, as it may affect the cleansing process.
  • Anal Irritation: Frequent bowel movements can cause irritation. Using a barrier cream or moist towelettes can help manage this discomfort.

What If PicoPrep Doesn’t Work?

In rare cases, PicoPrep might work differently than expected. If you don’t experience any bowel movement within a few hours after taking the prescribed dose, it’s important to contact your healthcare provider. They might adjust your dosage or suggest an alternative method to ensure your colon is adequately prepared.


PicoPrep is a highly effective solution for bowel cleansing before a colonoscopy. It usually takes 2 to 4 hours to start working, and the entire process is completed within 12 to 24 hours. Remember, the success of your colonoscopy is heavily dependent on the effectiveness of your bowel preparation. Following your doctor’s instructions closely and preparing adequately will help ensure the best possible outcome for your procedure.

This preparation phase is not the most pleasant of experiences, but it’s a critical step towards maintaining your health and ensuring your colonoscopy provides accurate and useful results.

+ There are no comments

Add yours