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Bladder and Bowel Q2 2022

Let’s put bladder and bowel conditions centre stage

iStock / Getty Images Plus / Ponomariova_Maria

Polly Weston

Clinical Lead Baywide Bladder and Bowel Service,
University Hospital of Morecambe Bay, ACA Chair

The embarrassment of bothersome bladder and bowel disorders has been a huge contributing factor to the Cinderella status associated with these conditions.

When we talk about Cinderella status, we are referring to a lack of awareness or a greater need for attention on a given cause of subject, as it is not recognised as a priority. In our case that’s bladder and bowel disorders. But now it is time for Cinders to go to the ball!

Breaking down taboos

I am so grateful to Dame Deborah James, known as @bowelbabe on Instagram. She is a writer, journalist and podcaster who has shared her personal bowel diagnosis and treatment journey with the nation, raising awareness on bowel dysfunction and encouraging us to talk about poo!

At our recent annual ACA conference, our patron Melanie Reid, writer and journalist with The Times, succinctly said “Nobody’s ready for you until they need you.” She is inviting us to slay the taboo, citing comedians who have used humour to breakdown the bladder and bowel taboo with the audience.

The embarrassment of bladder and bowel remains a barrier.

Addressing fear and embarrassment

In healthcare we know that early detection, prompt treatment and the correct access to specialist advice is best practise, but the embarrassment of bladder and bowel remains a barrier with this. ACA is fortunate to have senior regional clinicians supporting our campaign to make bladder and bowel questioning mandatory as part of holistic care.

I invite you to work together to rid the embarrassment behind bladder and bowel symptoms. Encourage patients to take opportunities to inform their healthcare professional if they have any bothersome bladder or bowel symptoms, and clinicians please make time for your patients so they can feel able to talk.

Recognising key symptoms

Please don’t ignore the following symptoms:


Blood in your poo, changes to your bowel movement, abdominal pain after eating, unexplained weight loss, extreme tiredness.


Persistent and strong urge to urinate, cloudy urine, pain or burning on urination, urinating frequently in small amounts, bladder leakage.

Let’s honour Dame Deborah and Melanie with our support and talk, say goodbye to Cinders, it’s time for bladder and bowel disorders to take centre stage and shine.

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