Serenity Gastroenterology

Busting Colonoscopy Myths

Serenity Gastroenterology

colonoscopy myths

A colonoscopy procedure enables your doctor to check inside your large intestine and rectum and explore possible causes of intestinal problems. It is a quick and easy test that lasts around 30 minutes and is performed while you’re under anaesthetic medication. The Gastroenterologist will use a long narrow tube with a tiny camera on the end to examine the inside of your entire colon and to see anything unusual, such as inflammation, polyps or cancer.

Some people are apprehensive about having a colonoscopy. We at Serenity Gastroenterology are here to debunk some common myths about the colonoscopy procedure, proving that this potentially life-saving test is worth a few moments of your time and some mild awkwardness. 

Myth: Colonoscopies are embarrassing 

We understand how sensitive it can be to undergo a colonoscopy procedure, which is why at Serenity Gastroenterology, we go out of our way to approach your procedure with sensitivity, respect, and professionalism. Our focus is on making your experience as comfortable and worry-free as possible. 

Myth: Colonoscopies are painful 

When it’s time for your colonoscopy, you’ll be given anaesthetic medication to keep you comfortable. Many of our patients find when they wake up in the recovery room, they don’t even remember their procedure. 

During the procedure air will be used to expand your colon, helping the surgeon to see the inner lining. This can cause some pressure and mild cramping which may last up to a few hours after the procedure. 

Myth: Only those with symptoms need a colonoscopy 

It’s common for people to assume that if they feel well, they don’t have a gastrointestinal condition, but many who are diagnosed feel fine. 

Often, polyps in the colon don’t cause symptoms. In fact, in most cases, people don’t become symptomatic until their condition has progressed.  

This is why colonoscopies and early screening are vital for saving lives by identifying polyps and early cancers at a stage where they are much easier to manage. 

Myth: Colonoscopies have a high risk of complications 

All medical procedures carry risk. 

Common risks and complications for a colonoscopy may include:

  • mild pain and discomfort in the abdomen for one to five days after the procedure. This usually settles with walking, and moving around to get rid of the trapped air.
  • headache, nausea or vomiting from the anesthetic
  • pain, redness or bruising at the sedation injection site (usually in the hand or arm)

Uncommon risks and complications may include

  • a perforation to the bowel. The risk of this occurring is 1 in 1000.
  • bleeding from the bowel where a polyp was removed. The risk of this occurring is approximately 3 in 1000.  

In contrast, the Cancer Council estimates 1 in 19 Australians will be diagnosed with bowel cancer by the age of 85. This means the risk of getting bowel cancer is much higher than the risk of having complications during or after your colonoscopy. 

Myth: Colonoscopy preparation is uncomfortable 

Many dread colonoscopy preparation more than the procedure itself.  

While it’s true that you’ll need to follow a special diet and drink a laxative solution to help clear your colon, most patients find that the preparation is not as bad as they expected. 

Some complain about the taste of the solution, but it can be easily masked by mixing it with other flavors. Check out our colonoscopy information page for more information on preparing for your procedure. 

Myth: I don’t have time for a colonoscopy procedure 

At Serenity Gastroenterology we understand that many of our patients are busy, and taking time out of your schedule is difficult. Fortunately, a colonoscopy is usually performed as day surgery. 

You’ll need to arrive at the hospital approximately 30-60 minutes before your procedure. The nurses will admit you to the day surgery unit and have you change your clothes. The procedure itself will take approximately 30 minutes, then you will be cared for in the recovery room. Here your surgeon will check in on you and let you know how the procedure went, whether they found anything significant and what happens next. Once you’re well, you will be discharged.

Please note, someone else must drive you home and remain with you for 24 hours as you continue to recover from your general anesthetic.  

Myth: Polyps equal cancer 

Polyps are benign growths on the inside lining of your bowel that may, in time, develop into cancer. Polyps can be removed during your colonoscopy, preventing them from advancing to colorectal cancer. 

Colon cancer progresses in stages so the earlier it is caught, the more easily it can be treated. Having a colonoscopy, even if you don’t have any symptoms, is so important. 

*All information is general and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Serenity Gastroenterology can consult with you regarding your individual health needs. 


Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2021). Bowel Cancer Screening in Australia.

Bowel Cancer Australia. (2023). A Quality Colonoscopy.

Cancer Council. (2023). Bowel Cancer.

Cancer Council. (2023). Colonoscopy.

Royal Prince Alfred Hospital; Department of Colorectal Surgery. (2017). Colonoscopy.