When you were a kid, you probably laughed whenever the words ‘poos’ and ‘wees’ were mentioned. But these days the topic of bodily excretions seems far less funny –because the process isn’t always straightforward.

Although the bowel and bladder are responsible for different functions, when the bowel isn’t working to digest and remove waste effectively, bladder leakage can be a side effect – but why?

Why does constipation affect bladder leakage?

The bowel sits extremely close to the bladder, and when it gets too full because it’s holding onto excessive amounts of faeces, the extra weight puts pressure on the bladder. This can result in – you guessed it - unwanted leaks.

This pressure means the bladder can’t hold as much as it normally can, resulting in stress incontinence (caused by physical pressure or exertion) or overflow incontinence (when the bladder releases urine involuntarily because it’s too full).

For women especially, being constipated and having to strain to make a bowel movement can reduce your pelvic floor strength. Weakened pelvic floor muscles reduce the ability to hold onto urine, and can make bladder control more difficult. Also, if the walls of the vagina are loose after childbirth or pregnancy, then poop can get trapped in a pocket of sorts, and not move through the colon effectively.

How do I know if I’m constipated?

If you -

- have to strain excessively to pass a stool

- have particularly lumpy or hard stools

eat a lot of processed foods

poop less than three times a week

feel like something might be stuck ‘up there’

feel like your bowel is never fully emptied…

then it’s likely you have some degree of constipation.

What causes constipation?

Constipation can be caused by several different things, including:

lack of fibre in your diet (make sure you’re eating leafy greens, oats and beans)

dehydration (water is an essential component of the digestion process, and keeps your body moving)

stress (what doesn’t stress impact?)

lack of exercise (physical activity assists with food processing and helps to trigger intestinal movements)

long-term medication

a change of diet (which can happen when you travel to a new country or have a busy work schedule)

holding on for too long (which causes your body to absorb too much water from faecal matter, and results in a slow-moving, dry and uncomfortable stool)

How can I manage constipation?

Laxatives are often the first course of treatment doctors will recommend. They are a type of drug or natural stimulant that catalyses bowel movements. There are many different types of laxative, and your doctor will recommend the best type depending on the type of constipation you are experiencing.

You can, of course, make changes to your lifestyle to try to manage constipation – and to do this, simply reverse the list of causes listed above:

add more fibre to your diet

stay hydrated

reduce stress by meditating and getting enough sleep

enjoy a fit and active lifestyle

talk to your doctor about whether your medication could be causing constipation, and if so discuss your options

take measures to ensure you’re eating well and regularly - especially when you’re busy

when you feel the need to go number two – GO! This reduces the likelihood that your stool will become dry and lumpy, and increases the chances of it passing through your body in its entirety (sorry for the graphic image!)

Constipation can also be a side effect of pregnancy and other medical conditions, which is why it always pays to see your doctor if you’re concerned about constipation (or any condition, for that matter).

I’ve sorted out my constipation, but I’m still getting bladder leaks

Hopefully, once the issue of constipation is under control, your bladder feels more manageable as a result. However, if your bowels are moving as nature intended and you’re still experiencing bladder leaks, it’s a sign that there’s something else going on in your body that needs addressing.

The pelvic floor is a complex area and the bladder can be affected by many different life experiences, including pregnancy, childbirth, menopause, injury and illness. Therefore, the next best step is to talk to your health professional about your experiences so they can create a customised plan of attack specific to your needs.

Want to manage bladder leaks while you’re working to regain control? Stay bladder confident with Confitex leakproof performance underwear.