How often should I open my bowels?

Everyone is different and not everyone has a daily bowel movement, which is what some people perceive as the 'norm'. Between 3 times a day and 3 times a week may be considered 'normal'.

Who is affected by faecal incontinence?

The problem affects all ages, but the risk increases sharply with age when men and women are equally affected.

What is faecal incontinence?

Faecal incontinence is the involuntary loss of solid or liquid stool. Some definitions use the term

How common is faecal incontinence?

According to the Bladder and Bowel Foundation, around 6.5 million people in the UK experience some form of bowel problem.

What should I do if there is blood in my faeces?

Noticing blood in your motion may be due to haemorrhoids (piles) which can bleed, especially if you are constipated, it is however very important to report this to your doctor or nurse so it can be checked out. You must report the following symptoms:

  • blood in your stools (faeces) or bleeding from your rectum (bottom)
  • a change to your normal bowel habits that persists for more than three weeks, such as diarrhoea, constipation or passing stools more frequently than usual
  • abdominal pain
  • unexplained weight loss

What can be done to help bowel problems?

There are various things which can be done to help. Sometimes simple dietary or lifestyle advice will improve symptoms. People may find it difficult to discuss symptoms such as bowel leakage but be reassured. To your doctor or nurse this is a problem like any other in that, once the reason for it is identified, effective treatment can be commenced. Just talking about the problem to your health professional will make you feel more positive and that there is plenty that can be done to help.

What should I do if I think I am incontinent?

If you do have difficulty controlling your bladder and / or bowel, do seek help. Your symptoms will be assessed and treatment options discussed. You can speak to your doctor or nurse for advice. There may be a specialist bladder and bowel service in your area and your GP may refer you to this department. Specialist nurses or physiotherapists usually manage this facility and have the skills to assess, treat or refer to other specialist consultants.

Who can I talk to about my condition?

Initially, you should visit your GP who may refer you to a specialist Bladder and Bowel service for assessment of your symptoms. HARTMANN also recommends that your contact the Bladder and Bowel Foundation if you have any further questions on continence issues.