Bowel Disorders

What are bowel disorders?

Bowel disorder problems can be embarrassing but are more common than you may realize. Bowel disorders are conditions that often affect your small intestine. Some of them can also affect other parts of your digestive system, such as your large intestine.

What are the different types of bowel disorders?

  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Celiac disease
  • Intestinal obstruction

Bowel control problems can include several issues:

  • Accidental bowel leakage (ABL): the involuntary loss of solid or liquid stool or flatus (also sometimes called anal incontinence), including:
  • Fecal incontinence: the involuntary loss of solid or liquid stool
  • Flatal incontinence: the involuntary loss of gas (also called flatus)
  • Constipation: straining to pass bowel movements

Certain health conditions such as frequent diarrhea, hemorrhoids, diabetes, multiple sclerosis and a history of a stroke can put you at higher risk for bowel control problems. People who have had surgery or radiation to the pelvic area are also at risk. Women are particularly at risk because of injuries to the pelvic floor that can result from having children. If the muscles, ligaments, tissues or nerves of the pelvic floor are damaged, women can experience troubles with bowel movements shortly after childbirth, or years later.

Bowel control problems can be extremely distressing and cause many feelings of embarrassment, however, there are medical and surgical options to help women with this problem, and new treatments coming out recently have been shown to be very helpful. Speaking up and talking about these problems is the first step toward having healthy bowel habits.

Symptoms that may be related to Bowel Disorders:

Symptoms can vary from one bowel disorder and person to another but some symptoms are relatively common across all types. You might experience:
  • Discomfort or pain in your abdomen
  • Gas and abdominal bloating
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Vomiting

Are you at risk?

There are many causes of bowel problems, which vary based on type.

Risk factors for fecal incontinence include:
  • Childbirth Injury
  • Anal Sphincter Injury
  • Nerve Injury
  • Prolapse
  • Fistula
  • Abnormal Stool Consistency


Risk factors for constipation include:
  • Dietary Problems
  • Medicines and Supplements
  • Pelvic Floor Disorders
  • Medical Conditions