Although estimates vary about the number of people with multiple sclerosis who are affected by bowel symptoms, it is believed that around half of all people with MS will be affected at some stage. Symptoms are thought to be underreported.
Common bowel symptoms in multiple sclerosis include:
- constipation and problems emptying the bowel;
- faecal incontinence or lack of control over bowel opening
It is not uncommon for people with MS to experience both constipation and faecal incontinence at the same time.
Bowel control is an extremely complex process that involves the coordination of many different nerves and muscles. For people with MS, bowel and bladder symptoms have been frequently linked to lower limb dysfunction. This means that problems with mobility are often accompanied by bladder and bowel symptoms presenting addtional management difficulties. However, with the right information and support, the majority of bowel symptoms can be managed satisfactorily.
Help with bowel management
Continence advisors or continence nursing services deal specifically with bladder and bowel symptoms. Your GP will be able to tell you how to contact your local service. The Bladder and Bowel Community has a helpline staffed by continence advisors - 0800 031 5412.
Last updated: July 2017
Last reviewed: March 2015
This page will be reviewed within three years