Encopresis: Treatment

Treatment for encopresis will typically involve cleaning out the colon and rectum, using stool-softening agents and beginning to build the habit of having frequent, healthy bowel movements. The initial cleaning of the colon and rectum is done using enemas, laxatives or both. During the next phase, a doctor will most likely continue to prescribe a daily dose of stool softeners or laxatives, to keep the child’s stool soft while her bowel returns from “stretched” to normal size.

The third part of treatment focuses on learning, or re-learning, healthy bowel movement habits. Doctors recommend that a child being treated for encopresis be required to sit on the toilet for 10-15 minutes per day at a regularly scheduled time, usually following a meal, and attempt to have a bowel movement. Doctors may also recommend dietary changes such as increased fiber and the reduction of constipation-causing foods. Over time, with the proper guidance, children can redevelop a positive association with regular, healthy bowel movements.

If a child has experienced feelings of shame, guilt or depression as a result of having encopresis, a knowledgeable psychotherapist can help her both understand those feelings and develop techniques for having regular healthy bowel movements.