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People with poor bowel control may have bowel accidents with bowel motions passed at the wrong time or in the wrong place. They may also pass wind when they do not mean to.
About one in twenty people has poor bowel control, occurring in both men and women. It can occur at any age, but is more common as you get older.
Many people with bowel control problems also have poor bladder control. This means they may also wet themselves.
Your pelvic floor muscles extend in and around your anus (back passage).
These muscles help you to control when you need to empty your bowels and help you hold on until you get to the toilet.
If these muscles are weak, you may:
These muscles may become weak because of:
Control of the pelvic floor muscles can also be affected by a number of brain or nerve problems such as stroke, diabetes and dementia.
Bowel urgency and diarrhoea
Diarrhoea means passing loose bowel motions. This can mean you need to rush to the toilet. Loose bowel motions make it harder to hold on until you get to the toilet.
Diarrhoea has many possible causes, including:
It is recommended you see your doctor about this problem.
Bowel motions can sometimes get clogged in the lower bowel. In severe cases, liquid can leak out around the clogged mass. This can cause you to soil yourself.
There are many causes of poor bowel control. A careful check is needed to find the causes. The check can also find those things that make it worse. If you have bowel accidents talk to your doctor.
You should also let your doctor know if you have:
Your doctor may:
Loss of bowel control is a warning sign and not a disease in itself. The right care will depend on what is causing the problem.
Care may include:
You are not alone. Poor bladder and bowel control can be cured or better managed with the right treatment. If you do nothing, it might get worse.
Phone expert advisors on the National Continence Helpline for free:
1800 33 00 66* (8am–8pm Monday to Friday AEST)
To arrange for an interpreter through the Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS National), phone 13 14 50 Monday to Friday and ask for the National Continence Helpline. Information in other languages is also available from continence.org.au/other-languages
* Calls from mobiles are charged at applicable rates.