According to the National Institute of Health, stool softeners should not be used for more than one week unless a doctor says otherwise. If a person's stools are still hard after a week, a doctor should be consulted.
Stool softeners, such as Ducolax and Miralax, are intended to help with constipation on a short-term basis. They relieve straining during bowel movements by softening stools so they can be passed more easily.
In most cases, a person using a stool softener has a bowel movement within 1 to 3 days of taking the medication. If there are sudden changes in bowel habits that last more than 2 weeks, or if the stools are still hard after taking a softener for one week, contact a doctor.