Bladder and bowel


Bladder dysfunction occurs in at least 80% of people living with multiple sclerosis. It can usually be treated quite successfully.

Treatment strategies include dietary and fluid management, medications and intermittent or continual catheterisation (inserting a thin tube into the bladder to remove urine).

Bladder dysfunction develops because multiple sclerosis blocks or delays the transmission of nerve signals in areas of the central nervous system that controls the bladder and urinary sphincter.


Bowel dysfunction/constipation is a particular concern among people with multiple sclerosis, although diarrhoea, incontinence (or loss of control) and other problems of the stomach and bowels can also occur.

Causes of constipation include insufficient fluid intake, reduced physical activity and mobility and decreased or slowed "motility" (movement of food through the intestinal tract). Certain medications, such as antidepressants or drugs used to control bladder symptoms, may also cause constipation.Loss of bowel control in multiple sclerosis may be neurologic in origin or related to constipation and should be evaluated by a health care provider generally a physician or nurse).

Find out more about continence care for people living with multiple sclerosis Icon

Create your own personalised symptom report using the Get your ACT together tool. The content is designed for people in the ACT, however it’s filled with information and handy tips and tricks that are useful for all people living with multiple sclerosis, wherever you live. The tool focuses on emotions, fatigue and continence, cognition, heat sensitivity, and pain.

Learn more: publications

Learn more: Podcast series, Not Alone.

Learn more: previous webinars

Bladder & Bowel changes in multiple sclerosis

Many people living with multiple sclerosis experience changes to their bowel and/or bladder, these sessions will explain the issues and offer advice around where to seek more help as well as strategies that you will find helpful.

Note: for the following webinar, bladder content commences at 20 minutes

(Recorded 13 November 2018)
Webinar handouts: Bowel and Bladder Changes in MS

(Recorded March 2017)
Webinar handouts: Bladder changes in MS


Learn more: upcoming programs

Visit our MS Education section to learn more about upcoming programs. For more information or to register please email or call MS Connect™ (Freecall 1800 042 138).

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