What causes feeling of incomplete bowel movements and how to treat it?

Symptom Database

Feeling of incomplete bowel movements can be a frustrating and uncomfortable experience. It refers to the sensation that you have not fully emptied your bowels after a bowel movement. This condition, also known as incomplete evacuation or incomplete defecation, can be caused by various factors and may require different treatment approaches. In this article, we will explore the possible causes of incomplete bowel movements and discuss effective ways to treat this issue.

Understanding Incomplete Bowel Movements

Before delving into the causes and treatments, it is important to understand what incomplete bowel movements entail. When you have a bowel movement, your body eliminates waste from the digestive system. However, in some cases, you may still feel the urge to pass stool even after having a bowel movement. This sensation can be accompanied by discomfort, bloating, and a feeling of fullness in the abdomen.

Possible Causes of Incomplete Bowel Movements

There are several factors that can contribute to the feeling of incomplete bowel movements. These include:

  • Constipation: One of the most common causes of incomplete evacuation is constipation. When stool becomes hard and difficult to pass, it can leave you with a sense of incomplete elimination.
  • Obstruction: Bowel obstructions, such as tumors or strictures, can hinder the passage of stool and lead to incomplete bowel movements.
  • Weak pelvic floor muscles: The muscles in your pelvic floor play a crucial role in bowel movements. If these muscles are weak or damaged, they may not effectively push stool out of the rectum, resulting in incomplete evacuation.
  • Neurological disorders: Certain neurological conditions, such as multiple sclerosis or Parkinson’s disease, can affect the nerves that control bowel movements, leading to difficulties in fully emptying the bowels.
  • Medications: Some medications, including certain painkillers and antidepressants, can cause constipation or affect bowel movements, contributing to the feeling of incomplete evacuation.

Treating Incomplete Bowel Movements

The treatment for incomplete bowel movements depends on the underlying cause. Here are some effective strategies that can help alleviate this issue:

1. Increase Fiber Intake

Consuming an adequate amount of fiber can promote regular bowel movements and prevent constipation. Include fiber-rich foods in your diet, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. Additionally, consider taking a fiber supplement if necessary.

2. Stay Hydrated

Drinking enough water is essential for maintaining proper bowel function. Adequate hydration helps soften the stool, making it easier to pass. Aim to drink at least eight glasses of water per day.

3. Exercise Regularly

Engaging in regular physical activity can stimulate bowel movements and improve overall digestive health. Try to incorporate exercises that target the abdominal muscles, such as walking, jogging, or yoga.

4. Practice Good Toilet Habits

Establishing healthy toilet habits can contribute to complete bowel movements. Take your time when using the restroom, and try to relax your pelvic floor muscles. Avoid straining or rushing, as this can worsen the feeling of incomplete evacuation.

5. Consider Medications

If lifestyle changes alone do not provide relief, your doctor may recommend medications to address the underlying cause of incomplete bowel movements. These may include laxatives, stool softeners, or medications to improve pelvic floor muscle function.

6. Seek Medical Evaluation

If you continue to experience persistent or severe symptoms of incomplete bowel movements, it is important to consult a healthcare professional. They can evaluate your condition, perform necessary tests, and provide appropriate treatment options tailored to your specific needs.


Feeling of incomplete bowel movements can be distressing, but it is a common issue that can be effectively managed. By understanding the possible causes and implementing the appropriate treatment strategies, you can alleviate this discomfort and improve your overall bowel function. Remember to prioritize a healthy lifestyle, including a balanced diet, regular exercise, and good toilet habits. If symptoms persist, do not hesitate to seek medical advice for a comprehensive evaluation and personalized treatment plan.

Haroon Rashid, MD
Rate author
Urgent Care Center of Arlington, VA
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