If you suffer from constipation symptoms or are having irregular bowel movements, it may be time to try a stool softener. Before relying on any over-the-counter medication, however, it is best to speak with your doctor. If he or she gives you the go-ahead to try a stool softener, there are a few options you may wish to try. If an over-the-counter or natural treatment doesn't work, your doctor may prescribe a stronger medication.
Get Help from Nature
All natural methods of stool softening are likely the healthiest and ultimately amount to habits we all should be practicing in the first place. Drinking plenty of water (eight or more 8-oz. glasses per day) and adding lots of fiber to your diet in the form of fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains is the most sensible way to soften your stool. If this method doesn't work within a few days, it may be time to try an alternative.
Prescription oral medications like Colase, Dialose, Docusate, DOS, Doxinate, Fleet Sof-Lax, Hemaspan, Modane Soft and Surfak, as well as numerous others, may be prescribed by your doctor as safe and effective stool softeners. They do come with a few side effects, however, including stomach pains, cramping and nausea.
Take these prescription stool softeners as prescribed; usually at bedtime, and with lots of water.
OTC Stool Softeners
Over-the-counter (OTC) stool softeners are broken into two categories--natural and chemical. Natural stool softeners are made of vegetable products and are said to work a bit more gently than their chemical counterparts. One natural OTC stool softener is Senokot. Dulcolax is one brand of non-natural stool softener that is said to be fairly mild on the system, usually working overnight. Most of the OTC stool softeners are recommended for use at night, and state that relief may be felt by the morning. Side effects are rare and typically consist of mild cramping or nausea.