Ask the expert


Constipation and overflow

My doctor is refusing to treat me and says it mental health based on my records although I have not been examined for years. My rectum has been plugged up with faeces for 12 months with faecal impaction and I am in great pain and I cannot urinate and recently this liquid stool is pouring from my bottom. I am in a terrible mess. I am frightened and do not know what to do. Please help me.

4 March 2021

Thank you for contacting us, it’s clear you’ve been having a very difficult time. Although it’s not possible to suffer from full faecal impaction for 12 months - this would lead to an acute bowel obstruction necessitating hospital care within a few months - it certainly does sound as though you have been struggling with severe constipation for the past year.[1]

The liquid stool you describe is likely to be overflow. It is commonly seen in severe cases of constipation and occurs when the stool in its liquid form (prior to the liquid being re absorbed and the stool then being able to become solid) bypasses any hard constipated stool that is present in the lower bowel and passes out of the body in this state.[2]

Sometimes when the rectum is very full of constipated stool it can press on the pelvis and cause problems with urination, such as you have been experiencing, although this is less common.[3]

If your doctor has not performed a physical examination to rule out constipation you can always make an appointment at your surgery to see another GP there.

If there are no other GPs available you can attend at your nearest walk in centre where a doctor will be able to see you. They will take a history, examine you and be able to prescribe treatment.

Given the nature of your symptoms, including your difficulty in passing urine now, it would be sensible to try to be seen within the next 1 to 2 days. You can find details of your nearest walk in centre (they are also known as urgent care centres in some areas) by going to the NHS choices website and entering your postcode,. We enclose the link here:

Urgent care location search - NHS

Lastly, if you are taking any medications it might be useful for you to have chat with the GP about them. Many medications can cause constipation as a side effect and if necessary these can be either adjusted or changed if constipation is an issue. Alternatively, a laxative can be prescribed both to treat and to prevent this happening again.

There are also dietary changes that may help you to prevent constipation such as introducing more fibre into your diet, and also ensuring that you stay well hydrated. You can read more about constipation and it’s management here:

Constipation - NHS Factsheet

Good luck with this, and do get an appointment soon if possible. Once you have been seen and treated., we're sure you will feel much better very quickly,

Answered by the Health at Hand nurses.

Further reading

How to have a healthy gut - AXA Health

Exercises to boost digestion - AXA Health


[1],[2]  Patient info, Harding 2019, Constipation. (Accessed 4 March 2021)

[3] Patient info, Tidy 2018, Urinary Retention. Accessed 4 March 2021)

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