Problems emptying my bowels: recurrence of childhood symptoms

I am a 54 year old male. When I was a child, I used to have a lot of problems emptying my bowels. Doctors & specialists alike could find nothing wrong with me. However when I was about 18 I went back to my G.P. & he suggested eating two carrots a day & taking Dulcolax and this seemed to help my symptoms enormously. I still used to get the odd day approximately every three to six weeks where I would have a call to the loo that would be poor although still difficult to ignore & consequently I would not be able to empty my bowels but other than that I was fine.

I wasn’t even taking any laxatives. Then in February last year, I had such a day just seemed to lose virtually all sensation for about a week and had to take something for it. Apart from two periods in May (for about three weeks) when I was fine again and about nine weeks from the end of September when I was reasonably okay, I really haven’t ever been right since.

My symptoms have changed somewhat. Often I can go to the loo normally albeit about 4.00 to 5.00 a.m. (used to go after breakfast) but after about an hour I get a dull ache across the groin and after about an hour I feel like I haven’t been at all. Sometimes I would go after breakfast again. I can start to feel uncomfortable after I have eaten my main meal of the day. I don’t have diarrhoea.

I have had various tests. I went for a Barium Enema last year & blood tests but all were negative. I have also tried accupuncture & visitied a Nutritionist but all have proved fruitless. I have tried Hypnosis & Councelling with no real success. I’m currently undergoing Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.

This situation is causing me a lot of distress although I recognise that this probably doesn’t help. I do try to keep a sensible diet but nothing seems to work. Please can you offer me some advice.


What happened last year? What was your childhood like? During childhood, your bowels were very obstinate and resistant, but they improved when you were 18 and were OK until recently. My experience in talking to people with constipation is that it tends to express a resistance, a need to keep safe and in control. This implies there might be things going on that are worrying or impulses that need reining in.

My intuition is that something happened in the last year or so that may have recreated the same kind of situation that may have occurred in childhood or reminded you of what happened then. Perhaps a parent died. Perhaps you were having problems with a relationship either at home or work. Perhaps it has something to with retirement. I’m guessing, of course, but in order to gain insight into what is happening and what your symptoms mean, do reflect on whether anything was going on last year and what was happening when your symptoms improved and got worse again.

Cognitive behavioural therapy may help, but I think it would so much more effective if it was complemented by some insight into the personal meaning of your symptoms and the purpose they might fulfil.

With best wishes.