Did you suffer from encopresis (stool withhold... - IBS Network

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Did you suffer from encopresis (stool withholding) as a child?


I have been diagnosed as IBS-C (I'm not convinced!) and have been reading recently about constipation to see if I can find any clues to my problems. I've long been aware that some of my problems might be my own doing because I have a (very) bad habit of not going to the toilet when I should, particularly if I'm busy doing something else.

I've become aware that the signal from my body has got very slight nowadays, and I know that this is probably because I have ignored it for years. I do often wonder why I do this and know that it stems from when I was child and my mother tried to toilet-train me on the adult toilet. This scared the living Bejesus out of me. So much so that I had a toilet phobia for many, many years and still don't like toilets that make sudden noises or have over-violent flushes (I hated the automatic flushing ones when they first appeared in the UK!), and I cannot use a darkened toilet at all. The terror is unmanageable. But I have improved hugely over the years in mastering my fears. But alas, I still don't go to the toilet when I should.

I just wondered if this was a common problem among IBS sufferers. They say there is a higher than normal amount of child abuse sufferers among IBS sufferers (I'm one of those too) and I wondered if this might be related to bad toilet training from mothers, or other traumas around the toilet from childhood.

Anyone think their problems may have stemmed from this kind of childhood trauma.....?

5 Replies

I am a 59 yo male who was encopretic as a child and IBS C now. I have 4 children and 5 grandchildren 2 of my children were encopretic and one of my grandchildren suffers with it. I have been wondering for years about the correlation and once my oldest child was diagnosed with IBS I am sure they are related. I am a lay person but it seems that everyone I have spoken to who was encopretic as a child is now diagnosed with IBS. I take calcium daily and have at least one bm a day.

Chancery in reply to Rootvet

Hi Rootvet. Yes, it's a weird problem, make no mistake. I have improved greatly over recent years and now don't let myself practice old bad habits - when you need to go, you need to go! It's one of those things that's probably more common than people realise. I know I wasn't really aware I did it till I was around my 40s and it's taken me a good long while after that to improve my bad habits. I think it's probably also hidden by the fact that people won't want to talk about it/admit it. After all, it is a fairly juvenile and ridiculous thing to do!

I am convinced that the IBS C I still have now relates back to the issues I had as a child. At the time I didn’t know them as encopresis but reading on the subject since shows that was what I suffered with.

I went to the family doctors a number of times because of soiling. At first it was put down to me simply not using the toilet when I should. My Mum used to get angry, she’d punish me for soiling, smacking, later using her slipper. Later I was put on a routine with a dose of a mild laxative (malt extract?) every evening and a compulsory sit on the toilet every morning and that brought it under control.

Chancery in reply to Jscog

Hi Jscog, that certainly sounds traumatic enough to have caused problems in later life. That's the problem with raising children; by the time parents realise they haven't gone the right way about things it's often too late and the psychological damage is done.

Jscog in reply to Chancery

I can remember the family doctor saying that my soiling was just down to me being lazy about the toilet, can remember being there and him saying that. That as soon as I felt I needed to go that I must go, not wait. Maybe that was useful advice. I hated going at school though. But I tried, because I knew that if I soiled, or rather when I soiled, I’d have a punishment. By the time I was seven my punishment for soiling was six with the slipper.

We went to the doctors again, I don’t know what prompted that. We saw another doctor. She decided I was constipated. It was after that I started getting the laxative, spoonful of this syrup. Yuk. But no choice about it , and it worked, because I started to have regular bowels. I had to do a sit on the toilet every morning. Most mornings would be ok. If not I had to have a suppository later in the day. I was happy not to be soiling, but embarrassed about the routine. Any non co operation meant the dreaded slipper.

The doctor must have told my mum what was happening, that the constipation caused the soiling. So the new routine worked, most of the time. In my teens I came off the ‘syrup’ and all was well until what I now know as IBS C which first became an issue in my early 20s.

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