Faecal incontinence can be difficult to live with at the best of times. It is even harder when you are single and looking to date. Are you single and avoiding meeting new people, dating or sex? Are you married and worried your partner no longer finds you attractive?
Incontinence during intimate moments can be frustrating for all involved. Most of us have trouble talking about sex at all, let alone discussing other intimate issues. However, it is important to discuss your issues with faecal incontinence with your partner in order to gain support and understanding – as well as enjoy your sex life again.
What Causes Faecal Incontinence?
There are many causes of Faecal Incontinence (FI). These include:
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
- Weakened muscles in the anus or rectum after childbirth
In most cases FI and urinary incontinence are not permanent conditions and will often improve when the root cause is treated. When incontinence is a long-term issue, dealing with the problem and how it affects your romantic life is even more important.
Talk to Your Doctor About Faecal Incontinence
Your first step to dealing with FI and your sex life, is to discuss your issues with your doctor. All too often people are too embarrassed to discuss incontinence issues with their doctor. But it is important to remember your doctor is a professional and has heard – and seen – it all before. You should never be afraid to discuss health issues with your doctor. Use words you are comfortable with, but don’t shy away from the discussion.
By making your doctor aware of your FI issues, you can find ways to treat or manage the issue. The treatment of your FI is largely dependant on the cause. You might find your doctor has a wide range of suggestions to help you.
Talking to Your Partner About Faecal Incontinence
While this might be a difficult conversation to have, it is very important you discuss your issues with your partner, especially if they are not yet aware of your condition. Together you can discuss how FI is affecting your life, from your job to your medical concerns. It is important your partner understands the stress and difficulties you face with FI and how it is affecting your relationships.
Once you both have the whole picture in front of you, you can discuss how FI affects your intimate moments. Discuss how your sex life can be improved. If you are avoiding intimacy, you’ll obviously want to get back into it. Work together with your partner to make your romantic moments more fulfilling for both of you. It is also important to discuss when your incontinence causes the most issues and how you can improve those times. From changing sexual positions to discussing your symptoms and emotional stress, there are solutions you can find together.
If needed, there is always counselling available for you and your partner.
Bowel Retraining to Help Treat Accidental Bowel Leakage and Faecal Incontinence
One option your doctor might give you is bowel retraining. This involves retraining your bowel and body to pass a stool at a regular time of the day. Before you begin bowel retraining, your doctor will likely keep a symptom diary where you will record:
- Times of voluntary bowel movements
- The times of involuntary bowel movements
- Associated symptoms
- Foods you’ve eaten
- Drinks you’ve consumed
This diary will help you determine if something you’re eating or drinking is affecting your bowel habits. It can also help you identify the best time of the day for bowel retraining.
While your doctor will make recommendations based on your particular condition, your program will typically consist of:
- Choosing a regular time each day in which you try to have a bowel movement
- As a general rule, it is best to pick a time that falls between 20-40 minutes after eating
- Spend 10-15 minutes on the toilet to see if you can have a regular bowel movement
- Do not strain as you try to go
- If you can’t pass a stool, resume regular activities
- It can take time to train your bowels so don’t worry if it doesn’t happen at first
- You can also use an enema, suppository, or prune juice to try and stimulate the bowels
- Ideally you only have to use these methods until your body adjusts to the retraining
Within several weeks of starting your retraining program you should find yourself having a regular bowel movement every day to 3 days
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