What is normal bowel function?
Being ‘regular’ is a way of describing good bowel habits or normal bowel function. Being regular really means that soft yet well-formed bowel motions are easily passed and that this happens anywhere from 1-3 times a day to 3 times a week. These stools should take minimal effort to empty, you should feel empty and satisfied when you leave the toilet.
What is constipation?
- Constipation is when your bowel motions are infrequent / incomplete and you have trouble passing them because they are often dry and hard
What is bowel incontinence?
- Faecal incontinence is a term used to describe leakage from the bowel due involuntary bowel movements.
- You may also find you have excessive wind or experience staining in your underwear.
Signs and symptoms of bowel problems
- Straining to poo and not feeling empty afterwards
- Going more than 3 times a day or less than x 3 weekly
- Having to wipe excessively after emptying
- Signs of constipation and straining with emptying bowels. Including bowel conditions such as haemorrhoids, anal fissures etc.
- Leaking faeces either on the way to the toilet or after emptying
- Rushing to the toilet
- Accidentally passing wind
- Fear of using public toilets causing you to resist the urge to empty
Common causes of bowel problems
- Incorrect toileting habits or ignoring the urge to poo
- Pelvic floor muscle dysfunction – this can be either weakness, or tightness or both!
- Connective tissue changes (which can be triggered by pregnancy and/or menopause)
- Dietary factors
- Poor fluid intake
- Gut-brain connection, stress and the nervous system
How can physiotherapy help?
- Physiotherapy involves assessing all the potential contributing factors for your bowel concerns and can include:
- Pelvic floor muscle retraining
- Bowel habit training
- Defecation retraining
- Fibre & fluid advice
- Addressing any musculoskeletal concerns that could be contributing; poor breathing, improving control of the abdominal muscles, correct posture