People with arthritis frequently experience issues with
bladder and bowel control. Arthritis does not directly
affect the bladder or bowel for most people. It is the loss
of mobility and joint stiffness that prevents a person from
being able to move quickly enough to get to the toilet on
time and manage their clothing. It is important that you
seek help if you are not making it to the toilet on time or
having to go more frequently and urgently than usual.
The good news is that it can be managed. Talk to your
GP or call the National Continence Helpline 1800 33 00
66 for confidential advice.
Normal Bladder and Bowel Control
Knowing how the bladder and bowel normally work will
help you understand the problems you may be
The bladder and bowel store and expel body waste. The
bladder stores and passes urine (wee) regularly
throughout the day. On average we should pass urine 4-
6 times during the day and up to twice over night. This
will vary depending upon how much you drink, what you
drink and how much you exercise and perspire. Your
bladder should easily hold between 350 – 500 mls.
When it is around about half full you will start to become
aware of your bladder filling. You should not go to the
toilet with this feeling but put it off until the urge is
stronger but not urgent.
The lower bowel stores and expels faeces (poo). The
normal range for bowel movements is anywhere from 3
times per day to 3 times per week. The faeces you pass
should be soft formed and easily passed with no
The pelvic floor muscles play an essential role in giving
us control over the bladder and bowel. When we hold on
to go to the toilet we are relying on the pelvic floor
Control of the bladder and bowel is co-ordinated by the
brain and nervous system, but getting to the toilet also
requires mobility and dexterity.
So when you go to the toilet you should feel in control
and not have to rush or leak before you get there.
Check symptoms of poor bladder and bo