NZ Formulary



What does it do?

Bisacodyl is used to treat and prevent constipation. It is also used to empty your bowel before medical procedures and surgery.

Before you start

  • Tell your doctor if you have other stomach or bowel problems.
  • Tell your doctor if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or breastfeeding.
  • If you have noticed a change in bowel habit that continues for longer than 2 weeks, talk to your doctor before taking bisacodyl.

How should you take it?

Use bisacodyl as directed.
Swallow the tablets whole with a large glass of water. Do not crush or chew.
Remove the wrapper before inserting the suppositories into the rectum. It usually works in about 20 minutes but may take up to 45 minutes.

What if you forget a dose?

If you take bisacodyl regularly and it is nearly time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and take your next dose at the usual time. Otherwise, take the missed dose as soon as you remember. Do not take two doses at the same time.

Can you take other medicines?

Some medicines available without a prescription may react with bisacodyl including:

  • other laxatives – discuss this with your pharmacist
  • anti-diarrhoea medicines such as loperamide (e.g. Imodium®)
  • antacids (e.g. Mylanta®)

Tell your pharmacist or doctor about all medicines or treatments that you may be taking, including vitamins, herbal products or recreational drugs.

Important information continues on next page.

What side effects might you notice?

Side EffectsRecommended action

Stomach cramps, diarrhoea

Anal irritation with suppository use

Tell your doctor if troublesome

If you notice any other effects, discuss them with your doctor or pharmacist.

Other information:

  • Do not use bisacodyl for longer than 1 week unless told to by your doctor.
  • Do not take antacids or milk within 2 hours of taking bisacodyl tablets.
  • Drink plenty of fluids while taking bisacodyl.