Conditions for women bowel problems

Bowel problems can significantly impact a woman’s quality of life and overall well-being. In this section, we will discuss common bowel problems in women, their symptoms, causes, and the role of pelvic floor physiotherapy in managing and improving bowel function.

Faecal Incontinence

This is the problem of faecal matter coming away at an inappropriate time. It may happen with a sense of urgency and you just don’t make it, or small streaks may appear on the underwear without you knowing. Sometimes a lot can come away without much warning. These problems are not so common as bladder leakage but they happen to LOTS OF US through no fault of our own: in other words we delivered our babies and these problems come to haunt us as we get older. There is lots to learn and lots you can do to manage better and feel in control.


Lots of people strain to empty the bowel thinking its normal. Lots of people just don’t go for days and days and know this is not normal but don’t know what to do about it! It is not normal to have to strain and straining will weaken pelvic floor over time. A normal bowel will tell you it needs to empty at an appropriate time, it will be as often as 3 times a day or as little as every third day. You will be able to sit, relax, and the bowel will empty itself. You will feel empty and satisfied that all is well. It will be easy to wipe up and finish. If this is not the case and you are bothered, seek help with us.

Rectal prolapse

This is where the inside of the rectum comes out after emptying the bowel. Colorectal surgeons manage this problem, not Gynaecologists. This is not a problem associated with childbirth. It is a problem associated with straining for the bowel. Occasionally we see people with connective tissue disorders whose collagen fibres are very stretchy and prolapse happens more easily.

Functional gut disorders/ IBS

This is a range of problems affecting the gut. Irritable Bowel Syndrome or “IBS” is a very common functional gut disorder. The usual symptoms are fluctuating stool (poo) type from hard to soft causing constipation to diarrhoea sometimes in one day. Painful abdominal bloating is often present prior to emptying the bowel. Your gut may be sensitive to certain foods and many people are sent to a Dietician to do a special “FODMAP” diet which eliminates certain food types to allow the poor gut to calm down, become comfortable and work properly again. We help people with these problems firstly to understand whats going on, and secondly to manage the urgency and frequency of diarrhoea or the difficulty emptying with constipation.

Obstructed defecation

If your pelvic floor muscles tighten instead of relax when you try to open your bowel, you will end up constipated. Eating more fibre makes the problem worse. This muscle tightening can happen without you knowing. After all, we take bowel emptying for granted. It’s supposed just to happen, easily. How would you know if your muscles tighten instead of relax? Pelvic Health Physios can do an examination and use ultrasound to find out what your muscle are doing and help you learn how to relax the muscles as you empty. Your Doctor may have asked you to have biofeedback or rectal balloon training. We can offer these treatments.

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