Senna/Docusate: Laxative Uses, Warnings, Side Effects, Dosage (2024)

  • Uses
    • What is senna/docusate, and what is it used for?
  • Warnings
    • Warnings
  • Side Effects
    • What are the side effects of senna/docusate?
  • Dosage
    • What are the dosages of senna/docusate?
  • Drug Interactions
    • What drugs interact with senna/docusate?
    • Pregnancy and breastfeeding
  • What Else to Know
    • What else should I know about senna/docusate?
  • Comments
  • More

Generic Name: senna/docusate

Brand Names: PeriColace, Senna Plus,Senna-S, Senokot-S

Drug Class: Laxatives, Stimulant

What is senna/docusate, and what is it used for?

Senna/docusate is an over-the-counter (OTC) stimulant laxative and stool softener used to treat occasional constipation. Senna/docusate is a combination of senna and docusate, both laxatives that work in different ways to promote bowel movement.

Senna stimulates intestinal contractions that move the bowel contents, while docusate softens the stool, making it easier to pass.

The senna component of the medication contains sennosides, compounds extracted from the leaves or fruits of the plant Senna alexandrina. Sennosides irritate the intestinal lining stimulating peristalsis, a series of contractions by which intestines propel their contents, resulting in bowel movement.

Docusate is a surfactant/detergent that softens the stool by reducing the surface tension of the oil-water interface in the stool, which increases the absorption of water and fat into the stool. Studies indicate that docusate may also stimulate the secretion of water, sodium, chloride, and potassium and inhibit the absorption of bicarbonate and glucose in the small intestine, allowing the bowel contents to retain more fluid.


  • Do not use senna/docusate in the following conditions:
    • Hypersensitivity to senna, sennosides, docusate or any of the components in the formulation
    • Fecal impaction
    • Inflammatory bowel diseases such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease
    • Gastrointestinal (GI) obstruction or perforation
    • Symptoms of appendicitis or any other abdominal condition that requires immediate surgical intervention (acute surgical abdomen)
    • GI bleeding
    • Rectal bleeding
  • Do not use senna/docusate concurrently with mineral oil.
  • OTC use of senna/docusate is not recommended in children younger than 2 years of age.
  • If you self-medicate with OTC senna/docusate, do not take for longer than a week.
  • Long-term use of senna/docusate may cause finger clubbing.

What are the side effects of senna/docusate?

Common side effects of senna/docusate include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Diarrhea
  • Red/brown urine discoloration

Call your doctor immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms or serious side effects while using this drug:

  • Serious heart symptoms include fast or pounding heartbeats, fluttering in your chest, shortness of breath, and sudden dizziness;
  • Severe headache, confusion, slurred speech, severe weakness, vomiting, loss of coordination, feeling unsteady;
  • Severe nervous system reaction with very stiff muscles, high fever, sweating, confusion, fast or uneven heartbeats, tremors, and feeling like you might pass out; or
  • Serious eye symptoms include blurred vision, tunnel vision, eye pain or swelling, or seeing halos around lights.

This is not a complete list of all side effects or adverse reactions that may occur from the use of this drug. Call your doctor for medical advice about serious side effects or adverse reactions. You may also report side effects or health problems to theFDAat 1-800-FDA-1088.

SLIDESHOW How to Get Rid of Hemorrhoids: Types, Causes, and Treatments See Slideshow

What are the dosages of senna/docusate?


  • 8.6 mg/50 mg



  • 2-4 tablets orally once daily; may increase to 4 tablets every 12 hours


  • Children under 2 years: Safety and efficacy not established
  • Children 2-6 years: One-half tablet orally once daily; may increase to maximum 1 tablet every 12 hours
  • Children 6-12 years: One tablet orally once daily may increase as necessary; not to exceed 2 tabs every 12 hours
  • Children over 12 years: 2-4 tablets orally once daily; may increase to 4 tablets every 12 hours


  • Most laxative overdoses in children are accidental, however, some people may take overdoses of laxatives to try to lose weight.
  • Senna/docusate overdose may cause severe abdominal painand/or cramping, persistentnausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and bloody stools, and may lead to dehydration and electrolyte imbalance, particularly in children.
  • Overdose may be treated with fluid replenishment, and symptomatic and supportive care.

Health News

  • Wegovy, Ozempic Lower Risk of Many Obesity-Related Cancers
  • Soy Foods May Be Good for Kids' Brains
  • Air Pollution Exposure Tied to 40% Drop in Live Births Among IVF Patients
  • Postpartum Urinary Incontinence Takes Physical, Mental Toll
  • Could a Cancer Drug Curb the Organ Damage of Severe COVID?
  • More Health News »

What drugs interact with senna/docusate?

Inform your doctor of all medications you are currently taking, who can advise you on any possible drug interactions. Never begin taking, suddenly discontinue, or change the dosage of any medication without your doctor’s recommendation.

  • Senna/docusate has no listed severe interactions with other drugs.
  • Serious interactions of senna/docusate include:
    • sodium sulfate/magnesium sulfate/potassium chloride
    • sodium sulfate/potassium sulfate/magnesium sulfate
    • sodium sulfate/potassium sulfate/magnesium sulfate/polyethylene glycol
  • Moderate interactions of senna/docusate include:
    • deflazacort
    • dichlorphenamide
    • digoxin
    • lily of the valley
  • Mild interactions of senna/docusate include:
    • mineral oil

The drug interactions listed above are not all of the possible interactions or adverse effects. For more information on drug interactions, visit the RxList Drug Interaction Checker.

It is important to always tell your doctor, pharmacist, or health care provider about all prescription and over-the-counter medications you use, as well as the dosage for each, and keep a list of the information. Check with your doctor or healthcare provider if you have any questions about the medication.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding

  • Constipation during pregnancy should ideally be managed with moderate exercise and dietary intake of fiber and fluid. Use senna/docusate with caution only occasionally for short periods if you are pregnant, it can increase the risk for electrolyte imbalances. Use for prolonged periods during pregnancy is not recommended.
  • It is not known if senna/docusate is present in breast milk, avoid use if you are breastfeeding.
  • Check with your healthcare provider before taking any OTC product including senna/docusate if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

What else should I know about senna/docusate?

  • Senna/docusate is generally safe for occasional use in recommended doses in patients older than 2 years.
  • Avoid chronic use of senna/docusate, it may lead to laxative dependence, and fluid and electrolyte imbalance.
  • Do not take OTC senna/docusate if you have nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, or changes in bowel habits that persist for longer than 2 weeks.
  • Do not use senna/docusate for longer than 1 week. If you do not have a bowel movement within a week or if you have diarrhea or rectal bleeding, discontinue and see your doctor.
  • Keep senna out of reach of children.
  • In case of overdose, get medical help or contact Poison Control Center.


Senna/docusate is an over-the-counter (OTC) stimulant laxative used to treat occasional constipation. Common side effects of senna/docusate include nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, and red/brown urine discoloration. Use for prolonged periods during pregnancy is not recommended. Avoid use if you are breastfeeding. Avoid chronic use of senna/docusate, it may lead to laxative dependence, and fluid and electrolyte imbalance.

Multimedia: Slideshows, Images & Quizzes

  • Digestive Disorders: What Your Poop Type and Color Mean The different shapes and colors of your stool can tell you something about your health.
  • Digestive Disorders: 23 Constipation Myths and Facts Constipation results in fewer bowel movements. Laxatives, home remedies, and diet changes may bring constipation relief. Change...
  • Super Tips to Boost Digestive Health: Bloating, Constipation, and More Upset stomach? Some foods may be the culprits, and bad habits may be to blame. Treat your body right with these simple nutrition...
  • The Truth About Poop: Test Your IQ Everyone does it, but no one talks about poop! What do changes in your poop mean? Take this quiz to learn about how your body...
  • Constipation: Foods to Eat, Foods to Avoid Take this quiz to find out what foods to eat, and what foods to avoid to prevent or relieve constipation.
  • Digestive Disorders: Why Do I Have Blood in My Stool? Do you have blood in your stool? Find out about possible causes and what steps you should take.

Related Disease Conditions

  • Stool Color Changes Stool color changes can very from green, red, maroon, yellow, white, or black. Causes of changes of stool color can range from foods a person eats, medication, diseases or conditions, pregnancy, cancer, or tumors. Stool can also have texture changes such as greasy or floating stools. Stool that has a uncharacteristically foul odor may be caused by infections such as giardiasis or medical conditions.
  • 15 Foods That Cause Constipation Constipation or the decrease in frequency and/or difficulty in passing stools (bowel movements) can be caused by a variety of problems. Check out these top 15 foods to avoid because they cause constipation. Some foods to avoid include white rice and bread, caffeine, bananas, alcohol, processed foods, and frozen dinners.
  • When Is Green Poop a Sign of Infection? Green poop is a common issue, but sometimes it's a sign of infection. Learn green stool's signs, causes, and treatment options. Black poop is usually a common condition, but may signify underlying medical conditions.
  • Why Is My Poop Dark Brown or Almost Black? While dark or black stools could result from minor causes, such as dietary changes, they may be the result of serious underlying conditions. Check out the center below for more medical references on stool health, including multimedia (slideshows, images, and quizzes), related disease conditions, treatment and diagnosis, medications, and prevention or wellness.
  • Top 12 Foods for Constipation Relief Constipation is a common problem, and almost everyone has been constipated at one time or another. There are foods that can help prevent constipation and also provide relief, for example, kiwi, prunes, beans (your choice of type), berries, certain seeds, potatoes, and popcorn.
  • Why Is My Poop Green If I'm Not Eating Anything Green? Usually, poop is yellow or brown, but if you consume green foods, you will have green feces. However, in some instances, you may find your poop green even if you do not consume any such foods.
  • When Should You Worry About Your Baby's Poop? You may need to worry about your baby's poop when it is abnormal in terms of consistency, color, quantity, and other factors.
  • Blood in the Stool Blood in the stool or rectal bleeding (hematochezia) refers to the passage of bright red blood from the anus. Common causes include anal fissures, hemorrhoids, diverticulitis, colitis, Crohn's disease, colon and rectum polyps, and cancer. The color of the blood in the stool may provide information about the origin of the bleeding. The color of stool with blood in it may range from black, red, maroon, green yellow, gray, or white, and may be tarry, or sticky. Treatment of blood in the stool depends on the cause.
  • What Is the Difference Between Fecal Impaction and Constipation? Constipation and fecal impaction are similar since fecal impaction is a severe form of constipation.
  • Is Green Poop a Sign of Infection? Green poop may or may not be a sign of infection. The normal color of poop is brown, due to the bile pigment present in it. Any other color (green, red, black) needs attention. Abnormal colored poop may be due to changes in food habits, medicines or underlying medical causes.
  • Can You Tell if You Have Cancer by Your Poop? Colon cancer is the fourth most common cancer. Noticeable changes to your poop that occur with colon cancer may include blood in the stool, loose stools, hard stools, and narrow stools.
  • Constipation Constipation is defined medically as fewer than three stools per week and severe constipation as less than one stool per week. Constipation usually is caused by the slow movement of stool through the colon. There are many causes of constipation including medications, poor bowel habits, low-fiber diets, laxative abuse, hormonal disorders, and diseases primarily of other parts of the body that also affect the colon.
  • Can You Still Poop With Impacted Feces? Digestion is the process of breaking down food in the gut so that it is in easily absorbable forms. The food travels from the mouth to the food pipe, stomach, small bowel, and large bowel to be finally eliminated through the anus. The small bowel (small intestine) absorbs nutrients from the food.
  • What Should I Do If My Poop Is Green? Learn why your poop is green and what you can do to treat it. Black, bright red, and pencil-thin stools are red flags for colon cancer. Other signs and symptoms of colon cancer include changes in bowel habits such as diarrhea and constipation.
  • When Should I Be Concerned About Green Poop? Green diarrhea may indicate underlying serious issues, such as certain gastric infections or gut inflammation.
  • How Can I Relieve My Baby's Constipation Fast? Learn the 10 best home remedies for relieving infant constipation, which include providing hydration, adding high-fiber foods to your baby’s diet, and giving warm baths.
  • How Much Prune Juice Should I Drink to Poop? Digestive problems are one of the common health complaints. Constipation is the most common digestive problem in the United States. It is defined as the occurrence of three or fewer bowel movements that are difficult to pass in a week. The stools in constipation are dry, lumpy, and hard.
  • Why Is My Poop Green? Green stools are a common condition that affects many people. Learn the signs of green stools, what causes them, how doctors diagnose them, and what you can do to treat it.
  • Laxatives for Constipation Laxatives types for the treatment of constipation include over-the-counter (OTC) preparations, for example, bulk-forming laxatives, stool softeners, lubricant laxatives, stimulants, saline laxatives, enemas, and suppositories.
  • How Do You Treat Occult Blood in Stool? Treatment of occult blood in the stool depends on the underlying cause. Learn about 9 conditions that can cause blood in the stool and how they are treated.
  • How Can I Stop Blood in My Stool? Bloody stools should be addressed, but there are many reasons for rectal bleeding that don’t warrant an emergency visit to the doctor.
  • Can You Poop With a Rectal Prolapse? Rectal prolapse is the sliding down of the rectum (the last part of the large bowel) from its normal position and protruding out of the body. The prolapse may involve either the superficial lining or full thickness of the rectal wall sliding down through the anus. The degree of prolapse varies depending on the extent of the protrusion.
  • Is Impacted Stool an Emergency? Impacted stool caused by chronic constipation can cause emergency complications, but treatment for mild cases is straightforward.
  • When Should I Be Concerned About Blood in My Stool? Blood in the stool can be a symptom of many disorders, some of which may be serious. Learn the signs of blood in the stool, what causes it, how doctors diagnose it, and what you can do to treat it. The normal color of the stool is brown, although green or greenish stool is also considered normal. The most common reasons stool turns green are eating green veggies, ingesting green food coloring and taking iron supplements.
  • What Can Blood in the Stool Mean? Blood in the stool can be caused by a variety of health conditions. Find out more about what it can mean if you have blood in your stool.
  • Why Would I Have Mucus in My Stool? Why do you have mucus in your stool? Learn what causes mucus in stool, when to see the doctor about it, and how to get treated.
  • Home Remedies for Constipation Constipation is usually an easily treatable problem. A few changes in diet, lifestyle, and making use of certain over the counter products can help relieve it.Here are seven natural home remedies to relieve constipation.
  • How to Make Yourself Poop: 12 Remedies to Do at Home 12 remedies to do at home that may help ease constipation.
  • How Can You Tell if Your Baby Is Constipated? Constipation is a common issue that affects many infants. Learn the signs of constipation in babies, what causes it, how doctors diagnose it, and what you can do to treat it.
  • Constipation During Pregnancy: Can Not Pooping Hurt the Baby? Although the pressure buildup from constipation during pregnancy may feel harmful, it is very unlikely to hurt your baby.
  • How Do You Relieve Constipation During Pregnancy? Learn what medical treatments can help ease constipation during pregnancy and speed up your recovery.
  • How Often Should You Poop? Pooping, otherwise known as defecation or bowel movements, is the end result of digestion. According to experts, it's normal to have bowel movements as often as 3 times a day or as infrequently as 3 times per week.
  • Why Do Babies Struggle Pooping? When it comes to pooping and babies, you should be concerned with frequency and consistency. Babies may struggle with pooping due to dehydration, they anticipate discomfort or pain, or they experience infant dyschezia.
  • Is Bright Red Blood in the Stool Serious? The presence of blood in the stool needs to be evaluated by your doctor. In most cases, the bright red blood in stools is not an immediate threat to life. The most common causes are piles, anal polyps, anal fissures and colitis (inflammation of the large bowel).
  • What Does Your Stool Look Like With Ulcerative Colitis? Ulcerative colitis (UC) is a disease that involves the inner lining of the large bowel. It causes abdominal pain and bleeds due to erosions and ulcers all over the large intestine and rectum.
  • malt soup extract Malt soup extract is used as a short-term treatment to relieve occasional constipation, maintain regularity of bowel movements and relieve anal itching (pruritus ani). Malt soup extract is available over the counter (OTC) as a tablet, powder, or liquid that is taken with plenty of fluids. Malt is used in the preparation of many foods and beverages. Common side effects of malt soup extract include gas (flatulence), excessive bowel activity, diarrhea, and rectal obstruction.
  • Is Green Poop Good or Bad? Green poop is considered normal and often a result of consuming green foods. In some cases, however, it could be a sign of infection or underlying medical condition.
  • What Can Constipation be a Sign Of? What is constipation and how do I know why I have it? Could it be a sign of something more serious?
  • What Are the Five Common Causes of Constipation? Here are five causes of constipation, which include poor diet and lifestyle habits, medical conditions, and medications.

Treatment & Diagnosis

    • Stool Acidity Test
    • Constipation FAQs
    • The Truth About Poop FAQs
    • What Does Blood in the Stool Mean?
    • What Does Bloody Diarrhea in Toddlers Mean?
    • What Does it Feel Like to Be Constipated?
    • Why Do I Constantly Get Constipated?
    • How to Get Rid of Constipation
    • Does Stress Cause Diarrhea or Constipation?
    • How Often Do Babies Poop?
    • Can Crohn's Cause Constipation?
    • Stool Color and Intestinal Bleeding
    • Stool Color Change Causes

Medications & Supplements

    • senna (sennosides; Senokot, Senokot EXTRA and others)
    • lactulose laxative (Enulose, Generlac)
    • docusate
    • senna
    • irritant or stimulant laxatives - oral
    • polyethylene glycol 3350
    • senna-rectal, Senokot
    • sterculia
    • iron w/stool softener sustained-release - oral
    • docusate (Correctol, Colace, Dulcolax, Phillips Liquid-Gels, and many others)
    • stool softeners/stimulant combination laxatives - oral
    • bulk-forming laxatives - oral

Prevention & Wellness

    • Castor Oil: 5 Health Benefits for Arthritis, Skin, Constipation, and More
    • Is It Bad to Stimulate a Baby to Poop?
    • Is Baby Poop Full of Germs?

Subscribe to MedicineNet's General Health Newsletter

By clicking Submit, I agree to the MedicineNet's Terms & Conditions & Privacy Policy and understand that I may opt out of MedicineNet's subscriptions at any time.

Senna/Docusate: Laxative Uses, Warnings, Side Effects, Dosage (48)

Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

Medically Reviewed on 10/18/2022


Senna/Docusate: Laxative Uses, Warnings, Side Effects, Dosage (2024)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Ray Christiansen

Last Updated:

Views: 5693

Rating: 4.9 / 5 (49 voted)

Reviews: 88% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Ray Christiansen

Birthday: 1998-05-04

Address: Apt. 814 34339 Sauer Islands, Hirtheville, GA 02446-8771

Phone: +337636892828

Job: Lead Hospitality Designer

Hobby: Urban exploration, Tai chi, Lockpicking, Fashion, Gunsmithing, Pottery, Geocaching

Introduction: My name is Ray Christiansen, I am a fair, good, cute, gentle, vast, glamorous, excited person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.