• PTS Team

Why Talk About Bowel When I Leak Urine?

Updated: Aug 21, 2018


By Dawn Sandalcidi, PT, RCMT, BCB_PMD

When children come to physical therapy for evaluation of urinary leakage, daytime and/or night time, we frequently ask questions about their bowel habits. Many people wonder why we ask about the bowel when they have urinary leakage (a.k.a. incontinence). The reason is that the bowel and the bladder share the same nuerologic input as well as the same muscles to help control them.

When the bowel is full and doesn’t empty on a regular basis, it puts pressure on the back of the bladder wall. This pressure causes irritability of the bladder leading to leakage and/or frequent trips to the bathroom.

Constipation commonly begins shortly after toilet training when children withhold urine to engage in other activities.

As a parent, many of us don’t recognize when our children are constipated. When children hold back the urge to pee, they use the same muscles as they would use to hold back passing gas or having a bowel movement. Doing this repeatedly over time, causes these muscles to tighten and stay tight. As a result, the muscles have a hard time relaxing when sitting on the toilet which can lead to incomplete emptying of stool and constipation. Just like with urine, sometimes children stop the urge to have a bowel movement as they are too busy with their activity and don’t want to take a break to use the restroom.

When we stop wiping our children’s bottoms, we stop knowing their bowel and bladder habits. Because of this, it is very difficult as parents to know if our children are becoming constipated.


What are healthy bowel habits?

Good bowel health is defined as having regular bowel movements at least 3 or more per week which are easy to pass and soft.

Eating a diet full of fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as having adequate fluid intake, helps both your bowel and bladder.

A child should have enough fluid, so when they urinate, the urine color is light yellow or opaque yellow. This can vary depending on the physical activity and the temperature outside. When it’s very hot and humid, we sweat more and need more fluid. Always add 1 cup of water for every one hour of physical exercise.

Children should also have 5 to 7 servings of fruits and vegetables per day. A serving size for your child would be approximately what fits in the palm of their hand.


Having good bowel health contributes to good bladder health and vice versa. If you aren’t sure what is best for your child feel free to ask us! We are happy to help!

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