Sometimes damage to the muscles of the anal sphincter is accidentally caused during childbirth, especially if forceps were needed to help the baby to be born. Sometimes exercises will help regain the function of damaged muscles. If the damage to the muscles is extensive, an operation may be needed to repair them.
Constipation without bowel leakage is a subject in its own right and there is not space to deal with it here. Mild constipation will often respond to changes in diet, such as adding more fibre and fluids, or to gentle medication such as Fybogel, Movicol or Regulan and to an increase in exercise. Severe constipation needs professional advice.
See inflammatory bowel disease below.
Ileo-Anal Pouch Operation
An ileo-anal pouch operation may be done for people who need the large bowel removed because of disease. A few people have trouble with leakage from the anus after this operation.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
IBD includes ulcerative colitis, Crohns disease and other less common diseases involving inflammation of the lining of the bowel wall. Diarrhoea is often associated with IBD, especially in the acute phase. This can cause tremendous urgency and accidents from the bowel if the toilet is not reached in time. Further information is available from the National Association for Colitis & Crohns Disease.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
IBS is a common bowel problem, affecting up to one in five of the population. Most commonly it causes abdominal discomfort, with an alteration in bowel habit (diarrhoea or constipation, or alternating between constipation and diarrhoea). People with diarrhoea associated with IBS may have difficulty in getting to the toilet in time, or difficulty controlling wind. There is not one simple treatment for IBS, but some medications, diets or complimentary therapies are helpful for some people. Further information is available in the UK from the IBS Network and in the USA from the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders.
Spinal Cord Injury
Bowel control is a major concern for many people after a spinal cord injury. There are often problems both with emptying the bowel and with control. Detailed advice is available on a site we have developed for the Spinal Injuries Association.