Accidental bowel leakage: one of the most distressing health problems there is.
Before we talk solutions, let’s acknowledge the feelings you get, because they can be devastating. You feel terrified you won’t make it in time. If you do have accidental bowel leakage, you feel ashamed, mortified, dirty. There are few worse ways of feeling out of control of your body than having accidental bowel leakage. Of all the people I help, it’s probably these people that are most grateful. Of all the tough things people tell me about in my clinic, this is probably the hardest to divulge.
But you’ve got to talk about it. Talking about it is the first step to fixing accidental bowel leakage.
Most people with accidental bowel leakage or ABL don’t tell their doctor about it. Because of this, they don’t find out that pelvic floor physiotherapy can help it. Even if they do, they’re too scared to go. I get it! Talking about bowels – especially losing control – is the last thing anyone wants to do. You feel like you’re the only one with this terrible secret. Please understand that we see dozens of people with this problem! A pelvic floor physiotherapist will not bat an eyelid about any aspect of your problem.We just want to help.
Why seeing a pelvic floor physiotherapist really isn’t that bad
It’s really embarrassing to go to a doctor about this. And a specialist is just as bad, if not worse! Don’t get me wrong, the specialists are really good at what they do. But pelvic floor physios really take the time to put you at ease. If you take the important step of seeing a pelvic floor physio and sorting out your accidental bowel leakage it could really turn your life around.
Conditions that contribute to accidental bowel leakage
These may need to be ruled out first, or soon after you start treatment. Yes, some of these might require a scope (e.g. endoscopy, colonoscopy). Or the specialist might need to see if there’s damage to the anal sphincter (endoanal ultrasound). They might need to check if there’s a problem with not enough pressure to close the anus (anal manometry). Unfortunately, none of the tests to look into bowel problems are any fun. But if you have had to have these done, take heart. The worst is over. Nothing that the pelvic floor physio needs to do to help you solve your problem is as bad as those tests. In fact, people often say to me at the end of a session “that was nowhere near as bad as I thought it would be!” So please take the step to making an appointment today. I get you to fill out a confidential questionnaire before you come in. Most people find it much easier to come in once they’ve already put some of it down on paper first. It can be quite liberating to be able to talk about it at last.
How to fix ABL
Regaining pelvic floor muscle control might be a big part of treatment, or just a small part. In contrast, working on the health of the gut is almost always a good idea. With a combined nutrition and pelvic floor physiotherapy approach, we cover all of this at Equilibria. Between us and the doctor, we are going to need to make sure you don’t have the following things going on, and if so, to address them:
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease (e.g. Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis)
- Coeliac disease
- Bowel cancer
- Diverticular disease
- Lactose intolerance
- Food intolerances or sensitivities
- Fructose or FODMAPs malabsorption
- Irritable bowel syndrome
If you can’t stand the thought of ringing to make an appointment, you can do it all through e-mail.