How does bowel dysfunction affect your life?

Bowel dysfunction may impact quality of life

Bowel problems are usually not life threatening. However, they can certainly affect your daily life.

Living with bowel problems can have considerable influence on your quality of life – both on your personal life and your hobbies, but it may also result in decreased ability to work. Many people with bowel dysfunction become isolated. They decline invitations and other social activities because they are afraid of uncontrolled bowel movements.


– Additional effort and costs for hygiene
– Need for special underwear
– Precautions regarding clothing choices



– Feelings of guilt / depression
– Loss of self-esteem
– Shame, embarrassment
– Fear of lack of control and smells


– Limiting physical activity
– Ceasing exercise

– No weekend walks or cycling


– Absence in the workplace
– Reduced efficiency and flexibility

– Job loss 


– Avoiding sexual contact & intimacy


– Planning according to the accessibility of toilets
– Staying home, no travelling or vacations
– Lack of flexibility in where or how to spend free time


– Decreased social interactions
– Isolation
– Lack of acceptance from the outside world
– Problems in the family


It can be frustrating to live with an “invisible” illness that causes a great deal of discomfort and inconvenience, and which can be difficult for family or friends – and even your doctors or health care provider – to spot. Bowel problems are still a taboo for most. Therefore, some do not receive help to treat their condition.

Furthermore, bowel problems with bowel dysfunction are different for everyone, making it difficult to find effective treatments. One way to improve the quality of your life is by becoming an expert on your own disease. You should find a good health professional who can support and help you, and let your partner and other loved ones know about your situation. 

1 Bowel Dysfunction A Comprehensive Guide for Healthcare Professionals, Chapter 5-8 by Brigitte Collins and Elissa Bradshaw, Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

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