Bowel Problems

A women's health physio can help manage bladder problems including:

Faecal Incontinence (Loss of Bowel Control)

Faecal incontinence (FI) refers to an accidental loss of bowel control of solid or liquid stool. Anal incontinence (AI) refers to the accidental leakage of solid/liquid stool or wind. Between 2-18% of the population may have faecal or anal incontinence. Some also experience faecal urgency (FU) – a strong urge to open the bowels which cannot be delayed for fear of losing control.

The causes of FU, FI and AI commonly relate to childbirth trauma, with a large tear (3rd or 4th degree tear) increasing the risk greatly. Some women will not develop symptoms until much later in life. It is likely that age-related changes to the supporting connective tissue, nerves, pelvic floor and sphincter muscles also has an influence.

Treatment of FU, FI and AI can involve several strategies. A Women’s Health Physiotherapist can guide you through these treatment options.

  • Managing stool consistency is important – it should be sausage-shaped and easy to pass, not too runny or too firm.
  • The way you sit on the toilet and bowel habits can make a big difference.
  • Diet modification and fibre intake can also help a lot – a dietitian can be another useful person to see for this.
  • Pelvic floor muscle exercises can be very helpful. You should see a Women’s Health Physiotherapist to make sure you are doing these properly.
  • Electrical stimulation and biofeedback can also be beneficial. A Women’s Health Physiotherapist can assist with these options.
  • Some with FI or AI may need surgery.


Chronic constipation may effect up to 30% of women and men in the western world. It involves the need to regularly strain, and having difficulty with passing a bowel movement. Many people with chronic constipation will report having firm or pebbly stools. Others feel they swing between firm and loose stools.

Chronic constipation can be a problem because of the other symptoms it can cause. These include:

  • Bloating, abdominal pain and discomfort due to not emptying your bowels completely.
  • Haemorrhoids and anal fissures.
  • Increasing your chances of pelvic organ prolapse, due to chronic straining.
  • Increasing your chances of bladder problems due to the chronic strain on your pelvic floor and pressure on the bladder.
  • Aggravating other problems – chronic constipation will often make urgency and pelvic pain problems worse.

Treatment for chronic constipation can include:

  • Improving stool consistency – stool should be sausage-shaped and easy to pass, not too runny or too firm.
  • Improving the way you sit on the toilet and your bowel habits.
  • Diet modification and fibre intake (including managing IBS and Crohn’s disease) – a dietitian is a useful person to see.
  • Pelvic floor muscle relaxation exercises can be helpful for many. Poorly relaxing pelvic floor muscles can be one of the problems contributing to constipation. You should see a Women’s Health Physiotherapist to make sure you are doing these exercises properly.

Next Steps

Contact Us for more information on how a Women’s Health Physiotherapist can help you with these problems.

Make A Booking or call us on 8132 0566, or 0404 296 069 to see a Women’s Health Physiotherapist about your condition.

About Us

Jenny Phillips is a Titled Continence and Women’s Health Physiotherapist. She offers skilled advice and management for all types of pelvic floor and pre- and post-natal problems.

Life Cycle Physiotherapy also offers 1:1 exercise sessions for women at all stages of life.

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92 Carrington St, Adelaide, SA 5000
+61 404 296 069
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