Nurse Continence Specialist Janie Thompson, Clinical Services Manager, Continence Foundation of Australia talks Laxatives

Laxatives are a commonly used medication to treat and manage constipation, however many people don’t realise that not all laxatives are the same. It is important to get advice from your GP, pharmacist or continence specialist
to help you work out if you need laxatives and, if so, what type, how much, when and how often to take them.

Levi’s parents learnt he was born with anorectal malformation (ARM) when he was two days old. Now, three years later, they are navigating toilet training and understanding if he has regular healthy bodily sensations. Levi was born in Echuca and airlifted out to another hospital three hours away. His parents were told via phone that Levi needed a stoma put in, because there was no connection between his bowel and his bottom.

Toilet Training Resources

The Continence Foundation of Australia has several resources available to help your child reach those important development milestones and gain greater toileting independence. All our resources are user friendly with pictures and easy to follow steps, providing a general guide for parents and caregivers. Download your free copies today.


Raven had two surgeries within the first seven months of life after being born with anorectal malformation (ARM). Her level of continence will not be known until it is time for toilet training.

Associate Professor Sebastian King is a paediatric surgeon whose specialty interest is children born with congenital bowel conditions such as anorectal malformation (ARM), and Hirschsprung’s disease. A/Prof King completed his PhD in slow transit constipation at the Royal Children’s Hospital, in Melbourne.

Although it is usual to begin toilet training between two and three years of age, like any developmental milestone, there can be tremendous variation, but commonly day training occurs before night. Try not to compare your child with other children (even their siblings!) and instead respond to their individual needs and personality. It is important to encourage children to respond to messages from their bladder and bowel - teaching them to ‘listen to their body’ and taking their time to use the toilet - no rushing, no straining.

“Incontinence is associated with older people; however, it affects so many children. It is important to talk about it and remove the stigma. Let’s learn to talk about incontinence like we now do periods.”

Loreto is a Clinical Nurse Consultant with thirty-six years’ experience in stomal, wound and continence care. She works with Associate Professor Sebastian King at the Colorectal and Pelvic Reconstruction Service (CPRS) as a Stomal Therapist and has been instrumental in implementing new and innovative ideas into practice to improve the lives and outcomes of children. While working at Monash Hospital, Loreto and a colleague began using the ultrasonic-assisted wound debridement equipment for wounds.

Continence Foundation Board Member and physiotherapist Dr Janet Chase was working at the Mercy Hospital for Women when her interest in women’s health increased.

As a Pelvic Health Physiotherapist, I regularly see children and their families to help improve their continence issues. Most children are primary school age from around 5 -12 years old. Common issues include nocturnal enuresis (bedwetting), day wetting, urgency, giggle incontinence and faecal incontinence.

As COVID-19 crept across our shores and lockdowns followed, a typical scenario was the panic buying seen in Australian supermarkets. Whilst toilet paper was in high demand, spare a thought for those who also had trouble accessing essential continence products. Living with incontinence is already challenging without the fear of not being able to access the right products, such as continence pads and pants.

Of all the changes a woman can face after giving birth, for Elicia O’Reilly, unexpected incontinence was the worst. After giving birth to a large overdue baby, Elicia was shocked when this happened to her and although a midwife explained that immediate post-partum incontinence was common after vaginal birth, it was something Elicia felt completely unprepared for.

It is a little-known fact that as many as 40% of women will experience some form of pelvic organ prolapse (POP), and 11% will undergo surgery for prolapse or experience incontinence at some point in their lifetime.

The pelvic organs, which include the bladder, vagina, uterus, and bowel, are held in place by the pelvic floor muscles and supporting tissues such as 'fascia' and 'ligaments'. These help to join the pelvic organs to the bony side walls of the pelvis and keep them in place.

Margaret Wilson worked at a Nurse Continence Specialist- led pessary clinic in a rural service, and provides women with advice and reassurance. At the clinic, specially trained nurses see women who are usually referred by their GP for pelvic muscle assessment and to be fitted for a pessary.

Many older women don’t have regular vaginal examinations, but this is important for a woman’s health throughout her whole life. Nurse Continence Specialist Janie Thompson, Clinical Services Manager, leads the National Continence Helpline on 1800 33 00 66 and addresses this important issue.

Bronwyn Ford’s journey with pelvic organ prolapse has been emotional. She describes frustration, sadness, anger and disbelief but on the other side – acceptance, resilience and empowerment. 

The Australian Prostate Centre (APC) is a not-for-profit medical centre in Melbourne, created to help men living with prostate cancer. They share three ways to balance the important parts of wellbeing including continence, sex, exercise and psychology.

How could incontinence affect your client’s mental health? In a story for Continence Foundation members, Dr Lori Shore (Senior Clinical Psychologist at Alfred Health Continence Service) shares how psychological approaches can help manage the impacts of incontinence.

The Continence Foundation of Australia recently hosted an online webinar Live fearlessly: the continence products you’ll wish you knew about sooner. Catch up on the full webinar on YouTube for more clinical advice and lived experience.



Last Updated: Tue 19, Apr 2022
Last Reviewed: Tue 17, Mar 2020