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Functional bowel clinic (bowel retraining)

Patient information A-Z

You have been referred to the functional bowel clinic. This leaflet offers information about the clinic and how we may be able to help you.

This is a bowel and muscle retraining treatment to help you improve control of your bowel and so improve your bowel symptoms.

This service is provided for patients with functional bowel disorders. We can help patients who have problems with:

  • Bowel leakage / incontinence
  • Constipation
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Anal muscle weakness, anal pain and
  • Patients who are unable to open their bowels properly


  • No preparation is required for this treatment
  • You will be able to travel home and continue with your normal activities afterwards
  • Do not worry if you are menstruating, this will not affect the therapy

What will happen to me?

You will see a nurse specialist for your treatment. Your first consultation will involve a detailed assessment of your bowel symptoms, general health, diet, any medications that you may be taking, and other factors that may influence your bowel function.

Using this information and the results of any investigations you may have had, the nurse will discuss the likely causes of your problems and plan a treatment programme for you to work on together. The nurse will explain anything that you need to know.

Verbal and written advice will be given. This may include changes to your current medications, diet and lifestyle. The advice may include specific exercises for you to complete.

We may refer you for further tests or investigations should they be needed or if they have not already been completed. They will be explained to you during your clinic appointment and any questions you have about them answered.

How long will it take?

The session usually lasts approximately 45 minutes. Most patients have between three and four further appointments (a maximum of five altogether) at approximately one month intervals. It may take several months before you feel an improvement in your symptoms.


The process of treating you is highly individual and personal to you. We want you to feel as comfortable as possible with us and be confident that any information you give us remains confidential.


The functional bowel clinic aims to help you improve control of your bowels without the use of any invasive treatment.


There are no risks associated with this treatment.

Contacts/further information

For further information please contact the functional bowel nurses on 01223 348106

We are smoke-free

Smoking is not allowed anywhere on the hospital campus. For advice and support in quitting, contact your GP or the free NHS stop smoking helpline on 0800 169 0 169.

Other formats

Help accessing this information in other formats is available. To find out more about the services we provide, please visit our patient information help page (see link below) or telephone 01223 256998.

Contact us

Cambridge University Hospitals
NHS Foundation Trust
Hills Road, Cambridge

Telephone +44 (0)1223 245151