What is your bowel leakage like?
It can be helpful to keep a record over a few days or a week of how often you leak and when it happens, what you had been eating and drinking, where you were and what you were doing.
This information can be helpful in several ways by:
helping health care professionals to understand your leakage more clearly. It can also help them to assess whether your leakage changes over time, for example before and after a treatment.
allowing you to plan being close to a toilet when you are likely to leak. It can also help you and your health care professional to identify factors that may be triggering leakage.
helping you to work out which products and how many you are likely to need – for example, the number of pads per day.
You can record how often you leak and when it happens quite simply using a chart or ‘bowel diary’. This can be a simple sheet divided into columns for each day of a week, and rows for each hour of the day and night. You enter a tick for each time you pass stool in the toilet, and a cross for each time you have a bladder leakage.
You can download a chart here, and see an example of a completed chart here.
For thinking about what products you may need, and to help your health care professional to understand your leakage better, it can also be useful to record other information:
some estimate of the amount and type of leakage
what you had been eating and drinking, how much and when
what you were doing when you leaked (such as coughing or standing up)
how well your product contained the leakage (if you were using a product)
What is the leaked stool like?
When recording information about bowel leakage, it can be difficult to describe stool (faeces). But having good information about the consistency and type of stool is important.
The consistency of leaked stool can affect which products are suitable, as some products are only suitable for certain types of stool. For example, loose, watery stool can be contained using a faecal collecting device but these are not suitable for solid stool.
The Bristol Stool Chart is a standardised way of describing stool. You can download it here and use it to describe your bowel leakage in a consistent way.1
Finding a suitable product or combination of products can be difficult. This section gives you some general advice.
Many products are available that can help you to manage bowel leakage. Some products are intended to prevent bowel leakage, while others are intended to contain the leakage. Other products are designed primarily for bladder leakage, but can be used for bowel leakage.
When choosing products, think about your needs carefully. Consideration of a range of factors is important for successful product selection.234 You need products that are suitable for the amount you leak and how often, but the products should also fit in with your everyday life, activities and personal preferences. Many people find that it is best to use a range of different products at different times and during different activities.2
It is recommended that you look at all sections in this website as there may be relevant information in more than one section. In About you, you can find information about choosing products, where you live, that are suitable for your physical characteristics, lifestyle and preferences.
Research has shown that people manage leakage more effectively when they participate in choosing their products5, find products that are reliable and easy to use678, and when they have good information and instructions for product use.8
Go to Products For Women or Products For Men for product-specific information and the interactive Product Advisor, which will help you find the right products for you.