If you have a bowel or bladder problem, you might think you're the only one who does.

Wee and poo problems are embarrassing and most people don't like talking about them. You probably feel alone, isolated and different from your friends. 

You're not alone

But you're not alone. In the UK, around 900,000 young people aged 5-19 years have a continence condition (source: PCF Paediatric Continence Commissioning Guide 2014). So there are probably other people at your school or college who have the same problem, but you just don't know who they are!

Here are the estimated numbers of young people who have bowel and bladder problems in the UK:

Number of young people in the UK with a bowel or bladder problem

Because I'm the only person in my class with that sort of problem, it kind of makes me feel adrift because I can't tell anyone else. (Ben, age 14)

Teenagers from ERIC's Children's Panel opened the ERIC Paediatric Continence Care Conference 2016 with a moving presentation featuring quotes from young people with bladder and bowel conditions. They made the audience wear blindfolds to listen to the recordings. Watch the video here:

Have a look at the Teens' stories section to read about the experiences of other teenagers with bowel or bladder problems. 

Messages from other teenagers 

We asked teenagers with bowel or bladder issues what they would say to someone else with the same problem. Here's what they said...

Don’t get upset over it. I used to get quite upset. If you see a doctor and they give you different things to try, then just try all of them because one of them might work for you even if you've heard it didn’t work for other people. (Celia, age 16)

Be yourself definitely. Don’t let it define you, let it strengthen you. You've just got a hurdle in your life that you need to get over. So let it make you the person you are, don’t let it weaken you. (Jason, age 14)

It’s not your fault. It's not that you've done something wrong. It’s not something to be embarrassed about. If you’re being bullied about it, then do something. (Paul, age 14)

I'd say don’t let it get in the way of everyday life. I try not to, I don’t think it does that much. I'll still go to town with my friends and I'll still do the things I want to do. I just try and take precautions beforehand. (Amy, age 16)

It’s okay, there are other people who also have this kind of issue. You don’t have to be afraid of it. (Edith, age 14)

Don't think that it’s just a problem for older people and little kids because, inevitably, you’ll end up feeling like you’re abnormal. That’s how I’ve felt. Just try to accept the situation as it is and don't compare yourself to other people your age. For all I know, there might be other people in my year who have got the same problem. (Sarah, age 18)

I think the advice I would give is don’t ignore it, because if you ignore it, the problem will never go away. You should never be embarrassed to talk to somebody about it, because there’s always somebody else that’s got the same problem as you and if you don’t talk to anybody then nothing will ever change. (Edward, age 13)

I would say if you’re getting bullied and you’re not coping very well with the problems that you have, you don’t have to worry, you just have to speak with your mum and dad or your teachers, or somebody that you really trust. (Harry, age 13)