How Multiple Sclerosis Affects the Bowel

These short films answer common questions asked by people with MS about bowel dysfunction. The films are aimed at people with MS and uses language and explanations that you may find particularly useful when having discussions with someone who has MS or cares for someone with MS.

The aim with the films is to spread knowledge and education that may help in management of bowel dysfunction.

You will hear about:

  • How the body works
  • Constipation, faecal incontinence and quality of life
  • Conservative bowel management such as diet, fluids, activity and enemas
  • Bowel management with transanal irrigation and anal inserts

Bowel dysfunction

Bowel dysfunction in MS is common and it is important to know how the bowel works. This short film describes normal function of the bowel, stool consistency, transit time and neurogenic bowel dysfunction (NBD).


Constipation is usually due to longer transit in the bowel in MS patients and faecal incontinence can be caused by several issues such as overflow due to constipation or loss of sphincter function. Bowel dysfunction has a high negative impact on quality of life and could cause depression.

Bowel management strategies

In this film strategies and suggestions for how to manage the bowel for people with MS are discussed. Bowel issues may have been present before diagnosis of MS. Conservative methods to improve bowel function should be tried, and diet, fluid intake and exercise and activity all need to be considered. Some people may need to take laxatives to help bulk the stool or stimulate bowel movement.