What are the different types of laxatives?

You’re doing all the right things to keep constipation at bay, such as eating a balanced diet, drinking plenty of water, and fitting exercise into your routine. But sometimes you might need a little extra help to relieve occasional constipation.

Dulcolax® has a variety of products, from laxative tablets and stool softeners to soft chews and suppositories, to put you comfortably in control. Read on to learn about the different types of laxatives, how they work, and how fast you can expect relief.

What is a laxative?

Simply put, a laxative is a medicine that helps increase bowel movements. If you’re experiencing signs of constipation, laxatives can provide a push in the right direction. There are many types of laxatives, and Dulcolax® products feature three of them: saline laxatives, stool softeners, and stimulant laxatives. These three types work differently in the body to help induce a bowel movement.

Saline laxatives

How they work 
Saline laxatives work by drawing water into the bowel. This hydrates the stool and makes it easier to pass. Saline laxatives can also help increase the number of bowel movements. An easier time in the bathroom and fast bowel movements? It’s a win-win.

​​Fast relief from Dulcolax®
Dulcolax® Chewy Fruit Bites, Dulcolax® Kids Soft Chews, Dulcolax® Soft Chews and Dulcolax® Liquid Laxative are both saline laxatives made with the active ingredient magnesium hydroxide. They provide fast, gentle relief within 30 minutes to 6 hours.

Stimulant laxative tablets

How they work
Stimulant laxative tablets work by stimulating the bowel muscles to speed up stool movement. In other words, they help get things moving so you can find relief and breathe easy again. 

Overnight relief from Dulcolax®
Dulcolax® Laxative Tablets are made with the active ingredient bisacodyl, and provide relief in 6–12 hours. That means you can take it before bed and wake up to a bowel movement. How’s that for predictable relief?

Stool softeners

How they work
Stool softeners work by softening the stool in the intestine, which makes it easier and more comfortable to pass. Occasional constipation is common during pregnancy, and when used as directed, stool softeners are a safe, gentle way to keep things moving. If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, please ask a health professional before using.

Gradual relief from Dulcolax®
Dulcolax® Stool Softeners are made with the active ingredient docusate sodium to help relieve occasional constipation and irregularity. They provide stimulant-free, gradual relief in 12–72 hours. Don’t wait for your next bowel movement if you experience hard, dry, or painful stools. Ease into relief with Dulcolax® Stool Softeners.


How they work
Medicated suppositories are stimulant laxatives that are inserted into the rectum. They stimulate the bowel muscles in the intestine to induce a bowel movement quickly. 

Fast relief from Dulcolax®
Need relief fast? Dulcolax® Laxative Suppositories are designed to give you gentle relief in 15–60 minutes. They’re made with the active ingredient bisacodyl, and they’re shaped for comfort.

Which laxative is right for you?

Use our quick symptom checker below.

Stimulant Tablet

Time to relief:
Works in 6 to 12 hours

How it works:
Stimulates the bowel muscles to speed up stool movement.

(Take by mouth)


Dulcolax® Laxative Tablets

Dulcolax® Pink Laxative Tablets

Stimulant Suppository

Time to relief:
Works in 15 to 60 minutes

How it works:
Stimulates the bowel muscles in the intestine to induce a bowel movement quickly.

(Insert rectally; do not swallow)


Dulcolax® Laxative Suppository

Stool Softener

Time to relief:
Works in 12 to 72 hours

How it works:
Softens the stool in the intestine, making it easier to pass.

(Take by mouth)


Dulcolax® Stool Softener

Dulcolax® Pink Stool Softener

Saline Laxative

Time to relief:
Works in as little as 30 minutes to 6 hours

How it works:
Draws water into the bowel, providing softer stools and increases frequency of bowel movements.

(Take by mouth)


Dulcolax® Liquid Laxative

Dulcolax® Soft Chews

Dulcolax® Chewy Fruit Bites

Dulcolax® Kids Soft Chews

Stay informed

Occasional constipation is a common condition with a wide range of possible causes. We know how unpredictable and frustrating constipation can be, so we are here to help you identify the possible causes and learn how to address them.