Bladder and bowel related conditions and diseases

There are a number of common conditions and diseases that can affect the bladder and bowel. Find out what they are and how they may affect you.


Incontinence is a term that describes any accidental loss of urine (wee) or faeces (poo). More than 5 million Australians of all ages have some form of incontinence. It affects more than 6 in 10 women and about 3 in 10 men in some way.

There are two types of incontinence:

  • urinary incontinence (poor bladder control)
  • faecal incontinence (poor bowel control)

Treatments may include:

  • increasing your fluids
  • eating a high fibre diet

In many cases incontinence can be cured.


Some conditions, like dementia, can cause bladder and bowel problems.

People with dementia have memory loss, can be confused and might not know where they are. They can lose control of their bladder or bowel because they:

  • forget where the toilet is
  • forget how to undo their clothes
  • forget what to do when they get to the toilet

They can also forget how to clean themselves and how to wash their hands after going to the toilet.

Dementia can also cause other bladder and bowel control problems like:

These problems can make bladder and bowel problems worse if not found and treated.

If you are caring for someone with dementia that has bladder or bowel control problems, Dementia Australia can help.

Other conditions affecting the bladder and bowel

As well as incontinence, there are other conditions that can affect your bladder and bowel. Some of these can look like incontinence, so it is important to see your doctor or a continence advisor to find out the cause of your problem. These conditions include:

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