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Laxatives vs. Stool Softeners after Hysterectomy

From the Hysterectomy Recovery Articles List

woman shopping for laxatives and stool softeners at drug storeWhat is the difference between a laxative and a stool softener? Why is it better for us to take stool softeners than laxatives after a hysterectomy?


A laxative is a substance that helps you have a bowel movement. Laxatives are used to relieve and prevent constipation, which occurs when it is difficult to have a bowel movement.

A stool softener is a type of laxative.

There are four types of products for preventing or treating constipation.
  • Bulking agents. Food such as bran or products such as Citrucel, Metamucil, or Perdiem help alleviate constipation by increasing the size of stool and making it easier to pass. It's okay to use bulking agents regularly; they will probably increase the number of bowel movements you have.

  • Stool softeners. Products such as Colace lubricate and soften the stool in the intestine, making it easier to pass. For best results, stool softeners require that you drink plenty of water during the day.

  • Osmotic laxatives. Products such as Fleet Phospho-Soda, Milk of Magnesia, and non-absorbable sugars such as lactulose or sorbitol, keep fluids in the intestine and also draw fluids into the intestine from surrounding tissue and blood vessels. The increased fluid in the intestines makes the stool softer and easier to pass. You should drink plenty of water when using this type of laxative. If you have high blood pressure, kidney disease, or are on a sodium-restricted diet, you should not use osmotic laxatives.

  • Stimulant laxatives. Products such as Correctol, Dulcolax, Ex-Lax, Feen-a-Mint, or Senokot speed up stool passage by irritating the lining of the intestines. Regular use of stimulant laxatives is not recommended. Overuse of stimulant laxatives decreases tone and sensation in the large intestine, possibly causing dependence even when you are not constipated.

Natural bulk products (food with high fiber) along with drinking extra water is recommended for the safest, most effective bowel stimulator.

Foods high in fat can upset picky digestive systems as can carbonated and alcoholic beverages.

Suggested "Recipe" from HysterSisters

1 cup of prune juice
1 cup of applesauce
1 cup of all bran cereal
Mix together (keep in the fridge) and take 2 tablespoons in the morning and 2 at night.



This content was written by staff of HysterSisters.com by non-medical professionals based on discussions, resources and input from other patients for the purpose of patient-to-patient support.

10-29-2003 - 06:16 AM


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