How long does it take the bowels to normalize ?  I vacillate between diarrhea and constipation  sometimes on a daily basis.  Frustrating!

Christine likes this post.
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Personally, I've never back to normal. But I noted some improvement may be in a couple of months after I stopped radiation. I hope you feel better soon. Hugs!
It takes many weeks for your small intestines to heal so the best thing you can do is go easy on them. In other words, watch what you eat and keep a food diary. This will help you determine what is causing which symptom. I discovered that I can no longer tolerate any dairy. Even now after 5 years, if I don't check or ask the waiter, I get a bout of diarrhea from it. If you have a nutritionist at your cancer center, talk with them about retraining your bowels. Keep your food pretty basic. I was on a low residue diet which essentially keeps the poop to a minimum. I pretty much ate eggs, toast, chicken, white rice, pancakes with cooked apples or pears, crackers with salmon, fish, small amounts of beef. I stayed away from raw vegetables for about a year, and you definitely want to avoid popcorn and nuts for a long while. Oh, and drink lots of water. MD Anderson has a bowel retraining program for frequent stools. I'm sure you can google it and find it. I followed the information about the fluids which was helpful in retraining my body to go in the mornings. It is frustrating, but you got through it. Be patient with yourself and your body as you went through a lot and now your body needs time to recover. You will notice improvements every 6-8 weeks. Every milestone will be better than the previous.
It never fails that I learn something new from you Daisy!
Thank you again!
Welcome to the "new normal" It will take you a while to get back to a manageable routine, to be frank...pelvic radiation does a real number on you. Check out for lots of hints and medical links. You WILL get there!
Christine likes this comment
I agree with Olga it also took me a few months for improvement. Of course, I worried more about the diarrhea then constipation. I was afraid to go anywhere. Depends help give me peace of mind. I also take one Immodium a day which helps keep the diarrhea away (hey, that rhymes lol). If I do get constipated, I stop the Immodium. It has seemed to work for me to get more regular.
Hi Jeanie. Like you, I was diagnosed with stage 3A and my treatment ended Feb. 2018. Everyone is different, but I'll give you my experience. Post treatment it took about 3 months for my bowels to be more manageable where I didn't feel like I would shit myself in public; although I did a few times at home (I just couldn't make it to the toilet in time). When I returned back to work in June things were much more manageable, and when I sense I have to pee or poop I immediately go to the bathroom. I haven't had any accidents so far- knock on wood. Luckily I haven't had diarrhea or constipation, I try to eat healthy and consume at least 25g of fiber a day, keep my body moving, hydrated, and I also take 2 stool softeners daily (not laxatives). About every 10-14 days I'll have a day where I will poop several times a day, but then back to normal the next day. I hope this helps.💖
Cheryl likes this comment
My bowels settled down after a few months, but have never returned to what I call normal--and I'm over 10 years out of treatment. I go back and forth between constipation and loose stools.
Mira Lax worked well.

It took time to get better...several months for the urgency/accidents. Went through some constipation/diarrhea like you mentioned. Mostly loose...I put Immodium in my morning pills every day for about 1 1/2 years.

Now, 3 1/2 years after treatment, I have fairly regular stools, no longer ribbonlike. Mostly normal...little diarrhea, little constipation.

It takes lots of patience...radiation does a number on your system.
I cried for 2 days after reading all the posts in this thread. I didn't expect such long term effects from these treatments.
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Vital Info


July 14, 2018

San Antonio, Texas 78218

September 21, 1946

Cancer Info

Anal Cancer

June 12

Stage 3A


Fluorouracil (5-FU)


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