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

f 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.

A urology nurse or continence nurse specialist can help you find a local bladder and bowel service.

Look for continence services
and resources online

The Continence Foundation of Ireland offers information on physiotherapy for bowel and bladder control, and you can search for a physiotherapist working in your area on the Irish Society of Chartered Physiotherapists website. Information on continence care for adults can also be found by visiting Health Services Ireland.

Know where to
find a toilet

In Ireland, you may also be able to get a medical card for speedier access to toilet facilities. The card is wallet-sized and discrete, and was developed by the Irish Cancer Society (ICS).
To learn more, contact the ICS Cancer Nurseline on 1800 200 700, or the ICS Daffodil Centre.

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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