Bowel Problems in Women

Women can have problems at either end of the spectrum in regards to bowel function.

Some women have problems with controlling their bowel motions and reaching the toilet on time while others have problems with constipation.

Both conditions can have equally debilitating and socially isolating effects.

Why does this occur?

Pelvic floor muscle dysfunction can be a cause of these symptoms. The pelvic floor may be too weak; meaning it is difficult to hold on, or too tight; meaning it is difficult to empty the bowel. There might be other conditions like prolapse which can cause a structural block preventing bowel emptying.

Pelvic floor dysfunction can be affected by:

  • Hormonal changes occurring with menopause

  • Natural process of ageing cause muscles to weaken

  • Childbirth- especially tears that involve the back passage (anal sphincter muscle)

  • Excessive weight gain

  • Repeated heavy lifting

  • Dietary Factors

  • Reduced fluid intake

What are the signs and symptoms of bowel dysfunction?

  • Feeling sudden urge to empty bowel

  • Not making it to the toilet in time to use your bowels

  • Noticing some faecal smearing on underwear

  • Need to repeatedly wipe after using bowels

  • Straining to empty bowels

  • Feeling that you have not completely emptied your bowels and needing to go back shortly after to empty

  • Unexpectedly passing wind

How can we help?

A thorough analysis of your symptoms, bowel habits, diet and fluid intake will be performed to determine the cause of your problems and devise strategies to improve them.

A comprehensive pelvic floor assessment will be undertaken in most cases to ensure your muscles are working effectively to both  enable emptying of your bowels and to control wind and bowel matter. From here an individualised pelvic floor program can be established to address any issues. 

Many women feel highly embarrassed to mention their bowel symptoms and have kept them a secret for a long time. We encourage you to make a time to see one of our physiotherapists who are trained to professionally and sensitively deal with your concerns and can help to make a big change to your life.