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Multiple sclerosis

Man sittiing in arm chair Introduction to multiple sclerosis Multiple sclerosis is a degenerative condition that affects the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord communication). This can interfere with cognitive and bodily functions including control of the bladder and bowel. Learn more about multiple sclerosis
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Introduction to multiple sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is an inflammatory disease in which the insulating covers of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord are damaged. The term ‘sclerosis’ actually means scarring, and ‘multiple’ relates to the fact that the scarring can occur in many different places in the brain and spinal cord.

The central nervous system 

Consisting of many nerve fibers, the central nervous system carries messages to and from the brain and spinal cord to different parts of the body. Nerve fibers are surrounded by a protective sheath of myelin, which helps to insulate them and ensure that the messages they carry – the nerve impulses – travel quickly and correctly. In people with multiple sclerosis, the myelin sheath around nerve fibres becomes damaged or scarred. This interrupts the messages carried by the nerves and can interfere with a wide range of bodily functions. 

Multiple sclerosis can lead to

  • Bladder and bowel symptoms 
  • Physical limitations 
  • Fatigue 
  • Cognitive impairment 

There are four types of multiple sclerosis characterized by the pattern in which the symptoms occur. These are: 

  • Relapsing remitting
  • Primary progressive 
  • Secondary progressive
  • Benign 

In Europe and North America, multiple sclerosis affects one in 800 people, making this illness the most common cause of neurological disability in young adults. Symptoms are typically first seen between the ages of 20 and 40. Multiple sclerosis is approximately twice as common in women as in men. It is not known what causes multiple sclerosis, although it is thought to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

Find out more

Learn more about multiple sclerosis and bladder problems and how to take care of your bladder.

Learn more about multiple sclerosis and bowel problems and how to manage your bowel.

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This information is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to substitute for professional Medical advice and should not be interpreted to contain treatment recommendations. You should rely on the healthcare professional who knows your individual history for personal medical advice and diagnosis.

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Couple visiting on their stoop Multiple sclerosis and bladder issues More than 50% of people with multiple sclerosis will experience bladder issues. The symptoms vary from person to person. Learn more about multiple sclerosis and bladder issues
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Multiple sclerosis and bladder problems

Many people with multiple sclerosis have neurogenic bladder dysfunction. This means they have a decreased ability to control the bladder. Some people may find that they need to urinate more frequently or urgently, whereas others may experience difficulty emptying the bladder or a feeling of incomplete emptying.  

Bladder problems, if left untreated, may be severely detrimental to the course of the disease and subsequently have a high impact on quality of life. 
The symptoms below may be one of the first indications of having multiple sclerosis but they may also develop during the course of the illness.

Urinary incontinence

  • Urinary leakage
  • Small or large amounts of urine leaking without warning or without feeling the urge to go to the toilet
  • Involuntarily leakage when sneezing, coughing, laughing or exercising
  • A sudden urge to rush to the toilet to urinate
  • The need to get up to pass urine two or more times a night (nocturia)

Urinary retention

  • Urinary hesitancy which is difficulty initiating urination
  • Urgent sense to urinate but inability to start the urinary flow
  • Frequent visits to toilet
  • Dribble due to overflow incontinence
  • Weak flow
  • Bloated lower abdomen 

Urinary tract infections

Urinary tract infections have a harmful effect on multiple sclerosis and may even contribute to relapse. When the body tries to fight the infection, it triggers excess immune activity and demylelination (destruction to the coating that protects the nerves). Therefore it is extremely important to regularly empty your bladder in order to avoid  urinary tract infections in the first place.

Find out more*

Products that can help to manage bladder problems associated with multiple sclerosis:

Learn more about neurogenic bladder and how to take care of your bladder

 

*users practicing self-catheterization should always follow the guidance of their healthcare provider

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Man laughing with his daughter Multiple sclerosis and taking care of the bladder Multiple sclerosis affects people differently and many will experience bladder problems. Various treatments are available to help manage your bladder and improve general health. If left untreated, bladder control problems can cause other health concerns. How to take care of your bladder
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Taking care of your bladder

Managing bladder issues

There are a number of treatments and products available to help manage your bladder. Luckily, bladder issues are one of the most treatable symptoms of multiple sclerosis.

Treating urinary retention

If you have difficulty emptying your bladder or experience incomplete bladder emptying, your healthcare professional will determine if you need to use an intermittent catheter. Your first step will be to find a catheter that fits you and your lifestyle. It is important that you follow the guidance in terms of technique and how often you need to catheterize.

Dealing with urinary incontinence

Though less common than urinary retention, sudden and complete emptying of the bladder, also called leakage, can also be associated with multiple sclerosis. Incontinence pads are often used, however, collecting devices such as an Male External catheter (urisheath or condom catheter) and urine bag provide a far more comfortable and effective solution for many men with urinary incontinence.  Male external catheters (MEC) are worn over the penis like a condom and connected to a collecting bag. It is important you use the right size MECto ensure optimal wear. The type of collecting bag you need depends on how much urine you leak.

Urinary tract infections (UTIs)

The presence of bacteria in the urinary tract is quite common and does not always cause a urinary tract infection. If, however, the bacteria grow and multiply to a certain level, they may cause an infection of the urinary tract that needs treatment.

Symptoms of urinary tract infections

Symptoms of a urinary tract infection vary and may be subtle. They include:

  • Dark-colored and strong-smelling urine
  • Cloudy urine
  • Blood in the urine
  • Fever/sweating
  • Bladder spasms
  • Increased muscle contractions in your leg

If you experience any of the symptoms listed, you should consult your healthcare professional.

Avoiding urinary tract infections

While there is no definite solution to avoiding urinary tract infections, there are a number of precautions that can help you prevent and sidestep recurrent infections:  

  • Generous intake of fluids – at least 1.5 litres a day
  • Good personal hygiene when you catheterise
  • Catheterisation routines – completely emptying the bladder regularly
  • Healthy digestion – a good bowel routine may reduce the risk of urinary tract infections

Find out more

Following the right technique and using a hydrophilic coated catheter can also help reduce the number of urinary tract infections you experience. Products that can help to manage bladder problems:

Learn more about neurogenic bladder and how to take care of your bladder

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Question and exclamation marks Frequently asked questions about multiple sclerosis bladder and bowel issues Find the answers to the most commonly asked questions about multiple sclerosis and issues related to bladder and bowel function. FAQs about multiple sclerosis
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Frequently asked questions

This FAQ is intended as a general guide meant to help you with typical questions. You should always follow the specific instructions provided by your healthcare provider.

 

What are the symptoms? 

Some of the most common symptoms of multiple sclerosis are: 

  • Urinary incontinence
  • Urinary retention
  • Fecal incontinence
  • Physical limitations 
  • Fatigue 
  • Cognitive impairment 

However, it is unlikely that a person with multiple sclerosis will experience all of these symptoms and each person is affected differently depending on how much and where the nerves have been damaged.

Can multiple sclerosis be treated?

There are many treatments available to help manage the symptoms of multiple sclerosis – some medicines may potentially slow the progression of the disease (disease-modifying drugs). The treatment chosen will depend entirely on the individual. There are also methods that can be used to help manage specific complications of multiple sclerosis, such as bladder and bowel problems. 

Why does multiple sclerosis cause bladder problems?

The bladder, which stores urine, is controlled by the nervous system. Because multiple sclerosis damages nerves, bladder function may be affected. Some people find that they need to urinate more frequently or urgently, whereas others experience difficulty emptying the bladder. Some people with multiple sclerosis may experience occasional urinary incontinence. 

How can bladder issues be managed? 

A number of methods can be used to help manage bladder problems, including catheters, sheaths (for men) and absorbent products such as incontinence pads and pants.

Why does multiple sclerosis cause bowel problems?

Nerve endings in the rectum help to alert people of the need to pass a stool when it enters the rectum. In people with multiple sclerosis, this message may become lost or incomplete increasing the risk of bowel problems such as constipation, faecal incontinence or a combination of both. Certain drugs commonly prescribed for multiple sclerosis can also increase the likelihood of constipation. 

How can bowel problems be managed?

Bowel problems include  constipation and bowel leakage. Bowel problems can often be improved by changing diet; there are also several types of medication that can help. Bowel irrigation can be used to help prevent constipation and bowel leakage.

Find out more*

Following the right technique and using a hydrophilic coated catheter can also help reduce the number of urinary tract infections you experience. Products that can help to manage bladder problems:

*Users performing self-catheterization should follow the advice of their physician

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Women with crutches smiling in her backyard Multiple sclerosis and bowel issues Bowel function can be affected by multiple sclerosis, as it interrupts the nerves that signal the need to empty the bowels. As a result, there is an increased risk of experiencing constipation, bowel leakage also known as faecal incontinence, or a combination of both. Learn more about multiple sclerosis and bowel problems
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Multiple sclerosis and bowel issues

As no two people with multiple sclerosis experience the exact same course of the disease, the extent and type of bowel problems people experience vary greatly. About 34% of people with multiple sclerosis are believed to have bowel problems to such a degree that it affects the quality of their daily life. 

Normal bowel function

Normal bowel function depends on all of the following working properly:

  • Muscular action and reflexes
  • The feedback messages carried by nerves between the brain and the bowel which control continence.

Both these functions can be affected by multiple sclerosis.

How multiple sclerosis affects bowel function

Bowel problems occur when muscular action, reflexes or the feedback system are disrupted; this is also known as neurogenic bowel dysfunction and symptoms include, diarrhea, constipation and bowel leakage. In multiple sclerosis, bowel leakage and constipation frequently co-exist.

Constipation 

Constipation is usually defined as less than three bowel movements per week and it is thought to affect almost half of people with multiple sclerosis. It may also be a factor in causing bowel leakage episodes. Certain drugs commonly prescribed for multiple sclerosis can also increase the likelihood of constipation. Managing constipation is very important and as a first step it should be addressed via diet and exercise. If these steps do not help then seek a healthcare professional’s advice because unmanaged constipation not only has a detrimental influence on quality of life but it can have more serious health consequences.

Bowel leakage and fecal incontinence

Constipation may also be a factor in causing bowel leakage / fecal incontinence episodes. Bowel leakage, or the loss of voluntary bowel control is a symptom of neurogenic bowel dysfunction and a person suffering from this may not be able to reach the bathroom fast enough. Overuse of laxatives can contribute to bowel leakage.

Find out more

Products that can help to manage bowel problems include: 

Read more about how to manage your bowel.

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Peristeen user meeting a friend for lunch Taking care of your bowel Constipation and bowel leakage affect people with multiple sclerosis, but it's not always easy to determine the best way of managing this important problem because the response to treatment varies from person to person. How to take care of your bowel
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Taking care of your bowel

Bowel problems can often be improved by making specific changes to a person’s diet. There are also several types of medication that can help. Bowel irrigation is another solution that may help to prevent constipation and bowel leakage, simply because it ensures regular emptying of the bowel.

Managing bowel leakage

A key aim of a bowel management routine is to ensure a convenient time to empty your bowel and therefore minimizing the risk of bowel leakage. Establishing a routine may help prevent constipation which often is a factor in causing leakage.

Managing constipation

Regular emptying of the bowel helps to prevent excessive build up of stools and chronic constipation, which is not only uncomfortable but also has health implications if left unmanaged.

Bowel irrigation for the prevention of constipation and bowel leakage

Bowel irrigation is a well-documented technique, where water is introduced into the bowel via the rectum. The water and waste is then emptied from the bowels. By preventing the build-up of stool, it is an effective method for reducing the risk of constipation. Irrigating on a regular basis helps prevent bowel leakage and eliminates the risk of bowel accidents.

Find out more

Products that can help to manage bowel problems include: 

Read more about how to manage your bowel. For answers to the most common questions about multiple sclerosis and bladder and bowel issues read more in the FAQ. 

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Catheter guides

*Users performing self-catheterization should always follow the advice of their healthcare provider

User stories

Coloplast has compensated these end users to share their product experience. Each person’s situation is unique so your experience may not be the same. Talk to your health care provider about whether this product is right for you.

Watch Julie's storybout SpeediCath® Compact Female

A catheter the size of a lipstick

Julie was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2007, at the age of 27. As a result, she began experiencing urinary symptoms and had to start using catheters. Julie shares how using SpeediCath Compact catheters has impacted her life.

Watch Julie's story about SpeediCath® Compact Female
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A catheter the size of a lipstick

Important Safety Information

Important Safety Information:  SpeediCath Compact is indicated for use by patients with chronic urine retention and patients with a post void residual volume (PVR) due to neurogenic and non-neurogenic voiding dysfunction. The catheter is inserted into the urethra to reach the bladder allowing urine to drain. The device is intended for females only. 
SpeediCath catheters are available by prescription only. Patients performing self-catheterization should follow the advice of, and direct questions about use of the product to, their medical professional. Before using the device, carefully read the product labels and information accompanying the device including the instructions for use which contain additional safety information. The SpeediCath product is for single-use only; discard it after use. If you experience symptoms of a urinary tract infection, or are unable to pass the catheter into the bladder, contact your healthcare professional. The risk information provided here is not comprehensive. To learn more, talk to your healthcare provider.

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Watch Dan's story about SpeediCath® Compact Male

Dan is now able to do more

Dan's bladder issues used to mean that he wasn't able to leave the house. Now, Dan is able to do more and feels more “Dan” again, with the help of SpeediCath® Compact Male.

Watch Dan's story about SpeediCath® Compact Male
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Dan is now able to do more

Important Safety Information

Important Safety Information:  SpeediCath Compact is indicated for use by patients with chronic urine retention and patients with a post void residual volume (PVR) due to neurogenic and non-neurogenic voiding dysfunction. The catheter is inserted into the urethra to reach the bladder allowing urine to drain. The device is intended for females only. 
SpeediCath catheters are available by prescription only. Patients performing self-catheterization should follow the advice of, and direct questions about use of the product to, their medical professional. Before using the device, carefully read the product labels and information accompanying the device including the instructions for use which contain additional safety information. The SpeediCath product is for single-use only; discard it after use. If you experience symptoms of a urinary tract infection, or are unable to pass the catheter into the bladder, contact your healthcare professional. The risk information provided here is not comprehensive. To learn more, talk to your healthcare provider.

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Watch Kerry's story

Kerry no longer cancels visits with her children

Kerry has multiple sclerosis. She says, “Peristeen® enabled me to do a lot more for myself. It made me feel a lot more positive.” So much, that she now volunteers for the MS Society and helps people locally.

Watch Kerry's story
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Kerry no longer cancels visits with her children

Important Safety Information

Important Safety Information:  Peristeen® empties the bowel by introducing water into the bowel using a rectal catheter. The anal irrigation procedure should always be carried out with care. Bowel perforation is an extremely rare, but serious and potentially lethal complication to anal irrigation and will require immediate admission to hospital, often requiring surgery. The risk information provided here is not comprehensive. To learn more, talk to your healthcare provided to understand the risks and benefits to determine if Peristeen is right for you. This treatment is prescribed by your physician. Although many patients benefit from the use of this device, results may vary.

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Watch Karine's story

Karine is relieved from her symptoms of constipation

Karine is a Peristeen® user with multiple sclerosis. Since using Peristeen, her symptoms of bloating, abdominal pain and nausea caused by chronic constipation have disappeared. In her own words, “I can got out and do what I want now. I can live my life.”

Watch Karine's story
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Karine is relieved from her symptoms of constipation

Important Safety Information

Important Safety Information:  Peristeen® empties the bowel by introducing water into the bowel using a rectal catheter. The anal irrigation procedure should always be carried out with care. Bowel perforation is an extremely rare, but serious and potentially lethal complication to anal irrigation and will require immediate admission to hospital, often requiring surgery. The risk information provided here is not comprehensive. To learn more, talk to your healthcare provided to understand the risks and benefits to determine if Peristeen is right for you. This treatment is prescribed by your physician. Although many patients benefit from the use of this device, results may vary.

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Insurance Coverage Options

You may be covered for a better catheter

Just as peoples’ needs for catheters differ, so does their insurance coverage. 

Insurance coverage for catheters can vary and depends on things like:
• the province you live in
• the reason why you need to use a catheter
• and the type of insurance you have

 

Learn more

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