There are lots of treatments for bowel incontinence that can help reduce the impact it has on your life.
Don't try to deal with it by yourself. The best treatments depend on what the underlying problem is, so see a GP to help find out the cause.
Continence products can help stop you soiling your clothes. They may be available on the NHS, or you may have to pay for them.
Products that can help include:
Continence products can be useful as a short-term measure, but they don't deal with the underlying problem and aren't a long-term solution on their own.
Read about the types of continence products and how to get them.
If your incontinence is linked to constipation or diarrhoea, you may be advised to make some changes to your diet.
For example, you can help reduce constipation by:
You can help reduce diarrhoea by:
You may sometimes be prescribed medicine to reduce incontinence, such as:
These medicines can also be bought from pharmacies, but they're not always suitable if you have incontinence – only try them on the advice of a doctor or continence specialist.
If laxatives don't help your constipation, medicine that you put into your bottom to clear your bowels (an enema) may be recommended.
If other treatments haven't helped, you may be referred to a specialist continence service for further treatments, such as pelvic floor exercises.
These are exercises, taught by a physiotherapist or specialist nurse, that can help strengthen the muscles used to control the opening and closing of your bowels.
The Bladder & Bowel Community website has more about pelvic floor exercises for incontinence.
Sometimes a technique called biofeedback may be used with pelvic floor exercises. You place a small device in your bottom while doing the exercises and it tells you how well you're doing them.
A treatment called bowel retraining may sometimes be recommended by a continence specialist.
This is a treatment programme that involves things like:
Surgery for bowel incontinence will only be considered if other treatments don't help.
The aim of surgery is usually to help you have better control over the muscles in your back passage (anus).
Several procedures can be done, including:
Very occasionally, a procedure called a colostomy may be considered. This is where your bowel is diverted through a hole made in your tummy so your poo can be collected in a bag.