Bowel Incontinence and Constipation

Bowel Incontinence and Constipation 2017-12-06T15:29:29+00:00

Bowel incontinence affects about 1 in 20 people.  A dysfunctional bowel can affect both women and men, and it is typically occurring in the older population.  Although this is the case, it may also affect younger people.

It is very common for both bowel and bladder incontinence to be present simultaneously. Bowel incontinence affects about 1 in 20 people.  A dysfunctional bowel can affect both women and men, and it is typically occurring in the older population.  Although this is the case, it may also affect younger people.  It is very common for both bowel and bladder incontinence to be present simultaneously.

Constipation refers to infrequent bowel movements, or those that are difficult to pass.  There are 2 main types of constipation and they may be a result of slow movement through the bowel, or relating to the type of exit including the pelvic floor muscles and anorectal complex. Your physiotherapist will be able to help you identify the type of  bowel dysfunction to help guide you through the most appropriate treatment for you.

Common bowel symptoms that people experience include:

• Constipation and straining

• Faecal/flatus incontinence

• Incomplete emptying

• Faecal urgency

• Bloating/discomfort

The bowel includes both the small and large intestine and has the primary functions of controlling the storage and defecation of faeces. Storage of the stool is in the rectum and this is maintained by the internal and external anal sphincters that are ring like muscles that open and close passageways.

In order for a normal defecation of the stool, these sphincters, as well as the pelvic floor muscles, are required to relax.  The healthy frequency of emptying bowels can vary between 3 times per day to once every 3 days. It is also recommended that straining should not be greater then 25% of the time taken to empty the bowels.

The type of stool may also be indicative of some underlying complications.  You can assess the type when referring to the Bristol Stool Chart, with the healthy range being type 4 and easy to pass.

Bowel incontinence is commonly affected due to the tightness or weakness of the pelvic floor muscles.  Your physiotherapist will assess your symptoms and supply you with a wide range of techniques to improve your quality of life.