Bowel issues after prostate cancer surgery

Whether you’re having bowel movements too often or not often enough after surgery for prostate cancer (radical prostatectomy), not having complete control can be frustrating. Don’t take this lightly — it’s important to let your doctor know if you’re having bowel problems, as this can lead to bigger issues.

Right after a radical prostatectomy, you might have trouble pooing or emptying your bowels (constipation). This is usually caused by the painkillers you’re taking or being dehydrated, and should resolve within a few weeks. If it continues long term (which is rare) or becomes uncomfortable, you might need to take some medicines to help.

Speak to your doctor about laxatives or stool softeners, and ask if they’re a safe option for you. It’s important that you don’t strain, as that can harm your recovery, cause haemorrhoids or even damage the muscles that allow you to control your bowels. 

Constipation can also add pressure to your bladder, worsening urinary problems.
It’s important to inform your doctor or healthcare team, to help take charge of your body.

Take charge of
your bowels

Talk to your doctor, nurse
or care team

If your bowel issues are bothering you and preventing you from doing your usual daily activities, speak to your doctor. This could be your family doctor, or doctor that’s been treating the cancer (such as a urologist or radiation oncologist). Your doctor may prescribe medications to help with either constipation or diarrhoea. You can also speak with a nurse (a continence nurse specialist, if available) about getting help.

In the UK, your GP can refer you to your local continence service or you can refer yourself.

Look for continence services
and resources online

Search your local community trust website for bladder and bowel or continence services. Alternatively, the Bladder and Bowel Community has a database which you can search to find a service near you.

Know where to
find a toilet

The National Key Scheme (NKS) offers a key that will help get you access to locked public toilets. If you live in Northern Ireland, these keys are available for a small fee from your local council office. Additionally, Macmillan can send you a free toilet card and key ring, which you can use to explain why you need the toilet urgently. Find out more here​.

To help ease your mind and to make sure you know where to find toilets when you’re out, you can use a toilet finder tool to find the public toilet nearest you.

What's next?

Now that you've read up on Bowel issues after prostate cancer surgery, here are some related articles to explore as you continue to build your knowledge and understanding of this topic.
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