Bowel problems

Anal incontinence is the accidental loss of faeces (poo) or Flatus (wind).

Bowel urgency is the sudden need to open your bowels with little warning.

The symptoms can be very distressing and can make it difficult to carry on with your normal routine. You do not have to put up with these symptoms and help is available from your healthcare professional.

It is the job of the pelvic floor muscles to:

  • Support the bladder, uterus and bowel
  • Prevent leakage of urine (wee), faeces (poo) and flatus (wind)
  • Allow urine and faeces to pass when you are ready

Self help and advice:

  • Start by exercising your pelvic floor muscles 3 times a day
  • Follow good bowel health. Eat a varied diet of fresh fruit, vegetables and fibre and drink around 2 litres of water a day.
  • If you have the sudden urge to poo, try to squeeze your pelvic floor muscles around your anus for 10 seconds. This can help control the urge and prevent leakage.
  • Make sure you open your bowels fully, take your time and relax the pelvic floor muscles. Don’t strain whilst opening your bowels and if you are constipated see your pharmacist or GP.

How to avoid straining on the toilet

  • Sit on the toilet with a stool under your feet
  • Your knees should be higher than your hips
  • Lean forward and put your elbows on your knees
  • Buldge out your abdomen
  • Straighten your spine
  • Do not strain and keep your tummy muscles relaxed

It is helpful to take a slow breath in through your nose so that your stomach moves outwards, and your chest remains still and then exhale through pursed lips.

Illustration of someone sitting on the toilet in the correct position, as explained in the information on the page.