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Bladder & bowel FAQs

This list should be used for general guidance only for people with MS. If you are experiencing bladder problems always consult a healthcare professional.

What is urinary incontinence?

This is an inability to control urination. The term applies to a broad range of bladder control issues, from occasional urine leaks to total loss of bladder control.

Why is it important to empty my bladder?

If your bladder is not emptied regularly and completely, the old urine that stays in the bladder and can cause a urinary tract infection. It can also lead to kidney infection, which can cause serious long-term damage.

What are the signs and symptoms of a urinary tract infection (UTI)?

A UTI can cause some, or all of the following symptoms:

  • Urine with a strong, unpleasant smell
  • Blood in the urine
  • Burning sensation while passing urine
  • Fever/shivering
  • Vomiting
  • Bladder spasms/lower back pain.

Why is it important to drink plenty of fluids even though I have bladder problems?

It is hard to drink lots of liquid if you often have to rush to the toilet in the middle of the night, or finding daily tasks hard while contending with urinary urgency or leaking.

But not drinking enough can make your symptoms worse. Urine becomes more concentrated, which can cause bladder irritability, bladder spasm and bacterial growth resulting in a UTI.

Drinking six to eight glasses a day can help flush out bacteria and promote good kidney function, along with a general feeling of wellbeing.

Are there other reasons for continence issues?

Yes! Continence problems can occur after of childbirth or injury, where the nerve pathways in the spinal cord may be damaged.

Incontinence changes are often temporary. However, if you have MS, all changes in continence should be noted for discussion with your MS advisor.

Can urinary incontinence be treated?

The following can be helpful:

  • Lifestyle changes
  • Pelvic floor exercises
  • Bladder training
  • Medication
  • Surgery

Can I have Botox for my bladder symptoms?

You may be offered Botox treatment if other medications fail to effectively manage symptoms of an overactive bladder,  and these hinder your quality of life.

Botox is a powerful neurotoxin, which acts by temporally relaxing the bladder muscle. It is injected into the bladder muscle during a cystoscopy – a procedure looking inside the bladder using a small camera inserted into the urethra.

The effects of botox typically last for about three months, after which the procedure may be repeated.

What can I do if my urinary symptoms are affecting my sexual activity?

Because most bladder issues can be managed effectively, your sexual health? and enjoyment should not be compromised in the long term.

If you do feel your symptoms are affecting your sexual activity talk to your MS advisor about it. They will advise you or refer you to a specialist clinic.

It’s also important to discuss any worries with your partner, so you can reach a mutual understanding about the problems you are experiencing.

How do I cope with menstruation and bladder symptoms?

Menstruation can be an extra issue for woman experiencing bladder problems.

If you usually use tampons, then it is safe to continue using them. If you are experiencing any additional bladder symptoms during menstruation, contact your GP or MS Nurse.

MS Symptoms

Bladder and bowel function in MS

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