This FAQ is intended as a guide to commonly asked questions. Please always consult your healthcare professional regarding bladder and bowel issues.
What are the symptoms?
Some of the most common symptoms of multiple sclerosis are:
- Urinary incontinence
- Urinary retention
- Faecal incontinence
- Physical limitations
- Cognitive impairment
However, it is unlikely that a person with multiple sclerosis will experience all of these symptoms and each person is affected differently depending on how much and where the nerves have been damaged.
Can multiple sclerosis be treated?
There are many treatments available to help manage the symptoms of multiple sclerosis – some medicines may potentially slow the progression of the disease (disease-modifying drugs). The treatment chosen will depend entirely on the individual. There are also methods that can be used to help manage specific complications of multiple sclerosis, such as bladder and bowel problems.
Why does multiple sclerosis cause bladder problems?
The bladder, which stores urine, is controlled by the nervous system. Because multiple sclerosis damages nerves, bladder function may be affected. Some people find that they need to urinate more frequently or urgently, whereas others experience difficulty emptying the bladder. Some people with multiple sclerosis may experience occasional urinary incontinence.
How can bladder issues be managed?
A number of methods can be used to help manage bladder problems, including catheters, sheaths (for men) and absorbent products such as incontinence pads and pants.
Why does multiple sclerosis cause bowel problems?
Nerve endings in the rectum help to alert people of the need to pass a stool when it enters the rectum. In people with multiple sclerosis, this message may become lost or incomplete increasing the risk of bowel problems such as constipation, faecal incontinence or a combination of both. Certain drugs commonly prescribed for multiple sclerosis can also increase the likelihood of constipation.
How can bowel problems be managed?
Bowel problems include constipation and bowel leakage. Bowel problems can often be improved by changing diet; there are also several types of medication that can help. Bowel irrigation can be used to help prevent constipation and bowel leakage.
Find out more
Following the right technique and using a hydrophilic coated catheter can also help reduce the number of urinary tract infections you experience. Products that can help to manage bladder problems: