Mayim Bialik talks her colonoscopy and reducing stigma with fans

Mayim Bialik wants to get everyone talking about colonoscopies.

On Friday, the 47-year-old Jeopardy! host posted a video to Facebook from the hospital. In the video, the Blossom alum wore a hospital gown as she spoke openly about her upcoming medical procedure.

“Everything’s fine, I’m fine,” she assured fans at the top of the video. “I’m having a routine procedure today that is recommended for people of a certain age.” The former child star went on to explain that she is having a colonoscopy.

“I decided to make a video about it because, I think it’s these kinds of things that if we don’t talk about them, it’s more likely that people don’t pay the attention they need to certain aspects of our physical well being – which is connected to our mental well being,” the actress explained.

In the video’s caption the former Big Bang Theory star reiterated that she wants to help “remove the stigma of routine things that we really should not have problems as a society talking about.”

“Also let’s not be puritanical about colonoscopies. It’s a thing. It wasn’t bad at all. I have tips to share another time to help you not have it be so bad,” Bialik wrote.

What is a colonoscopy?

According to the Mayo Clinic, a colonoscopy is a health exam that looks for changes in the colon and the rectum. During the procedure, a long, flexible tube called a colonoscope is inserted, with a tiny video camera at the tip. The camera helps your doctor see issues such as swelling, irritation, polyps or even cancer. Concerning tissues can then be removed or biopsied during a colonoscopy.

The American College of Gastroenterology recommends that screening begin at age 45 for those at average risk for developing colon cancer, however, there are other risk factors in which one may wish to be screened at a younger age and more often, per VeryWell Health. This includes a family or personal history of colorectal cancer or other types of polyps, a personal history of inflammatory bowel disease (IBS), and a personal history of radiation or pelvis to treat cancer.

What does a colonoscopy seek to find?

A colonoscopy can help better your health and in some cases, even save your life. A colonoscopy procedure can help your doctor look for:

Digestive health experts say symptoms such as changes in bowel habits, rectal bleeding, and consistent abdominal pain, bloating and cramping might warrant a talk with your doctor about a colonoscopy.

Colorectal cancer is one of the most common causes of cancer deaths in the United States and rates of colorectal cancer are higher in minority populations, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

By 2030, colorectal cancer may be the leading cause of cancer death in adults under 50, according to the Colon Cancer Coalition.

Thanks to 2021 change in guidelines that lowered the age of one’s first colonoscopy from 50 to 45, 20 million more Americans are now eligible to get checked.

Who else is talking about colonoscopies?

Bialik is not the only celebrity to go public with her procedure. In 2022, Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney filmed their colonoscopy experiences as part of the initiative Lead from Behind, which seeks to spread the message that colon cancer is preventable.

“I’ve been on camera a lot. But this was the first time one was shoved up my ass,” Reynolds said in a statement. “The procedure and prep were painless but the discomfort of filming and sharing the process was the hardest part. Rob and I did it because we want this potentially lifesaving procedure to be less mysterious and stigmatized.”

“Ryan and I both turned 45 this year and this is just a rite of passage,” added McElhenney, “and a great one because it can literally save your life. It’s obviously a procedure that makes people uncomfortable but it sure beats getting cancer. We wanted to have fun with this because as with all the weird things that happen in life, why not make it fun instead of scary?”

A doctor ended up removing an extremely subtle polyp on the right side of Reynolds’s colon, which the doctor described as “potentially lifesaving.” A doctor also removed three small polyps from McElhenney’s colon.

That same year actress Melissa Gilbert also shared the details of her colonoscopy prep and urged fans to get their done as well.

“I want you all to get your colonoscopies when it’s your turn,” she wrote in an Instagram post. “Don’t procrastinate. Get her done.”