Bowel problems

Surgery, radiation therapy and medicines can cause changes to the way the bowels work. These changes are usually temporary, but for some women, they are permanent and can have a significant impact on quality of life. It is important to talk to your treatment team if you are finding bowel issues difficult to manage.

Learn more about:


Constipation

Constipation is when you have difficulty passing a bowel motion regularly or often. It is important to avoid constipation, especially in the days after surgery, because it may lead to more discomfort or cause you to strain when you’re sitting on the toilet.

Talk to your dietitian or doctor about making changes to your diet or taking medicines if you are experiencing constipation.


Diarrhoea 

Diarrhoea is the frequent passing of loose, watery stools (faeces) from the bowels. A dietitian can suggest changes to your diet to reduce the number of bowel motions.


Radiation proctitis 

Radiation therapy can damage the lining of the rectum, causing inflammation and swelling known as radiation proctitis. This can cause a range of symptoms including:

  • blood in bowel motions
  • frequent passing of loose, watery stools (diarrhoea)
  • the need to empty the bowels urgently
  • loss of control over the bowels (faecal incontinence).

Talk to your treatment team about your risk of developing radiation proctitis. If you have any ongoing bowel problems, they may refer you to a gastroenterologist.


Tips to manage bowel changes

For constipation

For diarrhoea

  • Drink more water – aim for at least 8 glasses during the day.
  • Eat regular meals throughout the day.
  • Try to eat more fibre-rich foods, e.g. wholegrain breads and cereals, legumes such as beans and lentils, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds.
  • Reduce your alcohol intake.
  • Do some gentle exercise, such as walking.
  • Cut down on sweets, soft drinks, takeaway food, fried foods, potato chips and other savoury snacks.
  • Limit foods containing added sugars and salts.
  • Take medicines for constipation as directed by your doctor.
  • Drink plenty of fluids such as water, herbal teas, sports drinks and electrolyte-replacing fluids. Avoid alcohol.
  • Eat fewer high-fibre foods such as wholegrain breads and cereals, raw fruits and vegetables, and legumes.
  • Cut down on coffee, cola and other caffeinated drinks.
  • Choose low lactose or soy- based dairy products; small amounts of cheese and yoghurt are usually okay.
  • Ask your doctor about suitable medicines for diarrhoea. Take as directed.

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Instructions for downloading and reading EPUB files

Apple devices

The iBooks application must be installed on your Apple device before you can read the EPUB.
Different ways to download an EPUB file to your Apple device:

  • email EPUB files to yourself and transfer the attachment to iBooks.
  • copy EPUB files into DropBox (or a similar service) and use the DropBox app to send them to iBooks.
  • open EPUB files directly from Mobile Safari and open them in iBooks, where they are saved automatically by downloading the EPUB from the website.

Need more help? Visit: http://support.apple.com/kb/HT4059

Kobo

To download an EPUB file to your Kobo from a Windows computer:

  • download and save the EPUB directly onto your desktop.
  • connect your Kobo to your computer using the USB cable and tap “Connect” on your eReader.
  • select “Open folder to view files” to view the contents of your Kobo.
  • navigate to where you have stored your EPUB file in “Finder”, in documents or downloads, and drag and drop it into the Kobo window. You can now disconnect your Kobo to read the eBook.

To download an EPUB to your Kobo from a Mac:

  • download and save the EPUB directly onto your desktop.
  • connect your Kobo to your computer using the USB cable and tap “Connect” on your eReader.
  • open your “Finder” application.
  • select “Kobo eReader” from the listed devices to view the contents of your Kobo.
  • navigate to where you have stored your EPUB file in “Finder”, probably in documents or downloads, and drag and drop it into the Kobo window. You can now disconnect your Kobo to read the eBook.

Turn on your Kobo and your EPUB will be located in “eBooks”, while a PDF will be located in “Documents”.
Need more information? Visit: http://www.kobo.com/help/koboaura/response/?id=3784&type=3

Sony Reader

To download an EPUB file on your Sony Reader™:

  • ensure you have already installed the Reader™ Library for PC/Mac software
  • select the eBook you want from our website and click the link to download it.
  • connect the Reader™ to your computer.
  • open the Reader™ Library software and click “Library” in the left-hand pane and select the eBook to view it.

Need more help? Visit: https://au.readerstore.sony.com/apps_and_devices/

Amazon Kindle 2nd Generation devices

EPUB files can’t be read on the Amazon Kindle™. However, like most eReaders, Kindle™ 2nd Generation devices are able to display PDFs. We recommend that you download the PDF version of this booklet if you would like to read it on a Kindle™.
To transfer a PDF to your Kindle™ via USB cable from your computer or Mac:

  • download the PDF directly onto your computer.
  • connect the USB cable to your computer’s USB port, and the micro USB end of the cable to your Kindle™. Note: the Kindle™ won’t be available as a reading device while it is connected to your computer until it has been disconnected.
  • open the Kindle™ drive and several folders will appear inside. The “Documents” folder is where you will need to copy or drag the PDF to.
  • safely eject your Kindle™ from your computer and unplug the USB cable. Your content will appear on the Home Screen.

Kindle also provides a Kindle Personal Documents Service that allows users to send documents as an attachment directly to your eReader. For more information on this service, visit http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html/ref=help_search_1-1?ie=UTF8&nodeId=200767340&qid=1395967989&sr=1-1
For more information on accessing a PDF on your Kindle™, visit www.amazon.com/manageyourkindle, log in to your account and click on Personal Document Settings.
Need more help? Visit https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=200375630

Android and PC

You can also download and open eBooks on Android devices and PCs with appropriate apps or software installed. Suitable eReader apps for Android include Google Play Books, FBReader and Moon+ Reader. Suitable software for PCs include Calibre and Adobe Digital Editions.


This information was last reviewed in March 2019
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