Encopresis – the story of my life

me as a young child

For 15 years (undiagnosed since birth) I suffered from a medical condition that is rarely spoken about. The name of this condition is called Encopresis (“Enco” for short).  What is Encopresis, you may ask? Encopresis involves children, teenagers and adults that soil their underwear past the commonly referred to toilet training age (usually above the age of 5 years old). The indication “to go” to the toilet is rarely felt when someone has Encopresis as the nerves in the bowel (especially the rectum) become desensitised. As enlarged stools become blocked in the intestines, any watery or softer stools leak through and soil the underwear by literally going around or over the blockage. The more people (including myself) open up and share our experiences with Enco, hopefully the less taboo it will be.

Although approximately 1-10% of the population have the diagnoses of Encopresis, there are unfortunately more cases unreported, so I am unable to give a definite statistic. Different countries have reported different percentages that I have found it hard to sum it up in this blog.

For many years (even after Encopresis) this was something about me I always considered my deepest dark secret. Neither of my parents knew what it was or why I soiled my underwear (although I’m sure they realised something was wrong with me to continue soiling when no longer toilet training), however I was at the receiving end of their frustration. I don’t want other children/teenagers/adults of Enco to continue suffering and feeling alone (as I did) because no one is willing to open up completely about their experiences.

I have gone through almost everything from being bullied at school (with no friends and treated as a loner and an outsider), yelled at in public and at home from parents (I understand why now, but I didn’t then), no one believing me when I said I couldn’t feel/smell myself (therefore accused of lying when to me and my body I was telling the truth), I had suppositories/enemas and stool softeners, treats/charts/silly dances and cheap toys (rewards when I had successfully excreted in the toilet). Even teachers at school allowed the kids to bully me and say I stink, and put me in a separate classroom on one of my worst days (and be yelled at home after school). I have been punished and made to clean my soiling underwear. You get the idea. Fortunately I was never in hospital for Encopresis and it breaks my heart when I read/hear about children that have. I refer to myself as an “Encopresis survivor” (a term you can use yourself) now and here to share my story. There is light at the end of the tunnel, I’m living proof that there is a point in life where the body sorts itself out physically and Encopresis becomes a thing of the past. Here in my blog I will share my experiences, things that have helped/things that have hindered me, what I have learnt from my experiences (and what others have learnt). In my blog I will also share other personal experiences in my life from my travels overseas, good times/bad, my performing life and everything else in between.

Not a single person told me I was ok, that I’m not a bad person, when I had Encopresis. I felt so alone (having no real friends or social life didn’t make it any easier) with this condition, as did my family. That’s why I have made it my mission to help others, support them and get the message out there. “Be the person you wish to see”, comes to mind. I have to be the role model/hero/inspiration for those of us with it….because I wished I had someone to look up to when I was going through it. But I didn’t. I still don’t. I love my family, even now. If my parents knew what I’m sharing now then maybe life might’ve been better. That’s why this means a lot to me. Come with me on this journey and together we can help create awareness.

For anyone reading this, I’m happy to answer your questions, offer support (and heart) to those suffering alone (and feel so alone). I want to turn this curse into a blessing. I’m an Encopresis survivor and here to show you how.

You can e-mail me anytime at: naturegirl015admin@themagicwithinus.com


  1. Does encopresis cause constipation or does constipation cause encopresis? I’m a concerned parent with a 14 year old who has been suffering all his life.


  2. Wow. I cannot believe I have found a place where people are talking openly about enco, with no one judging anyone else’s journey. My daughter is 12 and this is her seventh year with it. Paediatric gastroenterologist, psychologist, dietician….we have tried it. I really don’t know what to do next..


    1. Thank you Shoane. I’m happy that you feel safe to share and post here. Welcome to my blog. I’m interested in hearing what was mentioned to the specialists and what they told you about this condition, and your daughter’s journey. You are not alone anymore. There is light at the end of the tunnel.



  3. I’m so glad I found people that have been through this. To know I’m not alone is a good feeling. I was beat almost every day by my grandparents from the age of 7 to 12 for having this, everyone in my family thought I was doing it on purpose. I was yelled at, made fun of, beat, left out and isolated by my family, teachers and anyone that thought there was something wrong with me. Honestly my childhood still scares me at times. I was hospitalized when I was 12 and it was around 6 months afterwards that everything started getting better. But I remember my grandparents saying to me after I got out of the hospital, ” looks like you finally got the attention you wanted ” no child should ever go through what happened to me, so if you’re a parent I hope you read this.


  4. I’m in my 40s now and still remember this well, except then I hadn’t heard the word encopresis. If my mother was told she didn’t tell me. It was along time later I found out it was an accepted condition and I wasn’t the only one.

    I had regular ‘accidents’ which embarrassed me and frustrated my mum. Eventually age 8 or 9 we went to the family doctor who told us that nothing was wrong and I just needed to use the toilet daily before school and be given a laxative in the evening if I hadn’t had a bowel movement. That helped, I suppose, but i battled with my mother. I would tell her that i had had a movement to avoid having to sit on the toilet for 10 minutes, or worse having to have the laxative. Sometimes there would be another ‘accident’ and by now, perhaps because she had been told nothing was wrong, I’d be punished with her slipper for it. So I would hide it, or try to hide it, to avoid a slippering, once she found out about that hiding it became more difficult.

    Fortunately the ‘accidents’ were not often, but they became more embarassing as i got older and I knew I’d be punished for them. If i felt the urge for a bowel movement when I was at school, or out, I would still hold it. Hold and hold, hoping I could get home. If i didn’t have a bowel movement in the morning I would worry that I would get the urge during the day – at school, or somewhere inconvenient.At school you didn’t ask to go to the toilets in class – you could, but it would have meant teasing and bullying, you had towait until break – but i’d try and wait until I got home.

    I existed like this for several years cleverly usually any evidence of occasional accidents – If caught out shouting at me that she thought we had got over all this and punishing me with the slipper. She couldn’t understand why i simply didn’t use the toilet – to her it was that simple.

    In my teens i would get constipated – i’d help myself to laxative occasionally because i didn’t want to tell my mum, for some reason, but occasionally I had to. Eventually she took me back to the doctor who referred me to the hospital outpatients. Even though i was in my teens they didn’t tell me what might be wrong, or what to expect. My mum talked the doctor. I remember going with the nurse not knowing what she was going to do and she was the one that explained what was going to happen. Again after all that the verdict was ‘nothing wrong’.

    I will stop there, but i’m pleased this condition is out in the open. My mum was strict but reasonable and if she had understood more she would not have made a difficult situation worse.



    1. Hi Jules,

      How are you? Thank you for opening up and sharing your story with me and my readers. It is sad hearing how other people have experienced and currently experiencing Encopresis, and you are very brave in opening up about your experiences. You are definitely not alone anymore. As more of us Encopresis survivors open up, communicate and share our stories, the less alone we truly are.

      Feel free to e-mail me if you want to share more about your story (or just communicate with a fellow Encopresis survivor): naturegirl015admin@themagicwithinus.com



  5. Your story is really encouraging. As the mom of a child with encopresis, I always hear people joke about potty-training, “they won’t go to college in diapers,” they say. It makes me want to cry because I am so afraid mine will! i am starting a blog to help moms get away from all of the incessant and contradictory advice and just commisserate about our situation. I would love if you would visit or even send people my way! http://www.sosomom.com/potty-training.html


  6. My 12 year old daughter has Enco. Like you we tried everything, laxatives, enemas, rewards, charts, clean outs, psychotherapy, biofeedback etc. Nothing worked until we discovered an online group/ program called Soiling Solutions. We started this program about two years ago. It starts with a thorough top to bottom clean out then a toileting power hour consisting of 4 sits every day before school. If the 1st sit is unproductive, she has to do another sit, if the second sit is unproductive she is given a glycerin suppository and does a 3rd sit, if the 3rd sit is unproductive, she is given a warm water enema and she does a 4th sit. We chart her bowel movements everyday and followed this protocol for about 2 years. Occasionally she would get backed up and we would have to clean her out and start all over again. Following this protocol worked for about two years.

    Fast forward to today, our daughter is now 12 she refuses to do sits, and charting, won’t follow the protocol, and is very disrespectful and defiant to us. She is back to soiling herself, she is tying to hide the fact from us and others, and she will not admit that she is having a problem. Basically she is in denial and becomes defensive and dismissive if we trying to discuss it with her.

    My wife and I have been to two therapists and both of them told us to back off to stop nagging and trying to get our daughter to follow the protocol. They told us that we have been enabling her, that she has not learned to take care of herself because we have been doing it for her. They said that we care more about her soiling herself and the social repercussions than she does. The therapists said that we need to let our daughter take responsibility for the care of her own body and we need to let her suffer the consequences of her actions/inaction. The therapists recommended that we let our daughter know that we believe that she is old enough now to take care of herself, and she should use the tools that we have taught her to manage her problem. We did that and we let our daughter know that we are available to support her taking care of herself all she needs to do is ask. What do you think of the advise we got from the therapists?

    My wife and I feel like we are watching a train wreck in slow motion. We could intervene but we have been advised not to. It is painful for us to watch and do nothing after being so involved with her Enco for over 7 years. I was the child of an alcoholic and I went through a 12-step program with Al Anon and Codependents Anonymous and I feel like I am going through the 12-step program all over again with my daughter. Intellectually, I understand that I can not change my daughter behavior, that she has to be the one who wants to change, and she has to be the one who initiates the change. But knowing that does not make it any easier. Any advise you could give us would be greatly appreciated.


    1. Hi Mark,

      I only just discovered this blog. And I hope this isn’t too late. I was diagnosed with Encopresis and associated Enuresis at age 5. I am now 27 and have been struggling with these conditions since that time. I also now have a 5 year old son who also suffers from enuresis and is dealing with the same issues of social rejection as other sufferers of the condition also do.
      I managed to a degree to manage my condition with Laxatives and was very lucky that my Enuresiswas more severe than Encopresis.


      1. Sorry, phone malfunction. I wanted to point out that your daughter will be wanting to work out her own survival techniques and that the routines you have helped her to establish over time may become more prominent in her life again once she establishes her own independence. I know I used to hide things from my parents because I was ashamed and that their anger and frustration with me only reinforced my own shame. Being positive is hard but it can help to point out to her that it is hiding her condition from you, rather than the condition itself that upsets you. Drawing a clear distinction between your feelings about her condition and her behaviour is really important. I know this had been crucial in establishing routines and positive behaviour patterns with my son. I know it is frustrating but it really is up to her.


  7. Hi all. I am a therapist. I am currently working with a 7 year old boy who is intelligent, loving, kind, funny, and suffering from enco. We are now celebrating his 16th day, accident free! I’m glad that you guys are pointing out that kids feel like they are ‘dirty”, or “gross”. The approach I used with my client is to first, externalize the problem. We personified the accidents by giving it a name. We started referring to the enco by that name. We established that it is separate and apart from the child, making the bad guy the enco, and not my client. We talked about how this “person” has caused so many problems for the child, in school, at home, and among the family. I encouraged other family members to weigh in on how this “person” has caused them frustration, embarrassment, and confusion. I then made a stuffed representation of this “person” that looked like poop. I made it so the child could hold on to the top of it, and move it around, basically showing him that he could control the poop. We talked about his favorite super hero, and made him a superhero over the pile of poop. He responded well when he realized that he could regain control over this problem. It also helped for him to be able to talk about the problem without talking about himself. We also did some background work to uncover some emotional issues that triggered the enco. Once we worked through those with the family, he seemed ready for his daily battle with this villainous “person”. We mapped out the quickest routes to the bathroom at home and at school. We also set up a bathroom schedule, to make sure he was visiting the toilet regularly, even when he didn’t feel the urge.

    I was excited to see your blog. I think it will be very helpful for you to share your experience with others. There are many sufferers and family members who feel totally alone, and are even undiagnosed. Best wishes to you!


    1. If the author of this latest posting to Dimity’s blog new of her desires, LORDY! Dimity, as I know, being a friend and one who has been trying to help her with her goal, wants to be a AMBASSADOR for those with Encopresis! She wants to go out there, talk to people with this problem, and let the public know of this issue! I’ve even helped her get a page started on Facebook to get her on the Ellen DeGeneres show! Bravo for all those that follow this blog and want to do their part to hel out.


    2. Hi LB,

      How are you? Thank you for taking the time to read my blog and share your story here. Congratulations on your client (and fellow Encopresis survivor) being accident free. I absolutely agree with how you and your clients are working through Encopresis. Encopresis isn’t an easy condition to live with, and a lengthy journey (which is why I refer to being accident free as a “survivor”). Keep up the amazing work. I’m very interested in getting into contact with you, if possible. Can you please e-mail me: naturegirl015admin@themagicwithinus.com as there are many things I wish to discuss with you. I have a Facebook page that you are welcome to LIKE (and recommend to your clients): https://www.facebook.com/helpencopresissurvivorseeellen?ref=hl&ref_type=bookmark As the name of the page suggests, I’m very willing to open up publically about Encopresis and be the voice for those that are suffering in silence. The more support (and letters/e-mails to the show), the more awareness of this condition we can make. I also have a Facebook page for your clients (parents/family members and for the Enco battlers/survivors themselves to open up and connect with others) here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/211406189068339/ and this other group ONLY for Encopresis survivors/battlers (those personally having experienced Enco): https://www.facebook.com/groups/250860305044481/

      Thank you once again for sharing your story, how you work through it and I look forward to hearing from you soon. Take care,



  8. Hi my daughter rose is seven and has encopresis. Its worrying. Is there a solution? She can’t smell /feel it! She wears pads and pull ups . I’ve tried everything. Charts , gifts, encouragement medicine enema suppositorys. We need help


    1. Hi Stephanie,

      I understand how you feel, and you are definitely not alone. Yes there are solutions, unfortunately I don’t know of any “quick fixes”. Your daughter doesn’t want to have this condition either. I too couldn’t feel/smell myself when I had it (and no one believed me either), this topic has been posted in my blog http://themagicwithinus.com/2012/07/09/is-it-true-your-child-cant-really-smell-or-feel-that-heshe-had-an-accident/

      Pads are helpful to hold the soiling and easier to remove/change, however I personally found with them that it would hold them on the surface. Perfume is good too (especially after going to the toilet). Taking a daily probiotic, drinking water (and sometimes tea) can help. I personally found the charts boring, disappointing (when nothing happened in a long time) or simply forgot to use it when supposed to. Some creative children respond positively to them. The gifts/positive encouragement when your daughter is successful in doing a “number 2”, definitely keep that up. My parents did it too (even if it’s just a cheap toy). The positivity made me feel better inside and helped to create some happy memories of my time with Encopresis.

      I too was given suppositories to help remove the blockage (after NOT pooping in 10 days). It fortunately wasn’t ever overused or used everyday. I now suffer from Vagismus (Vagina has uncontrollable clenching when anything “foreign” gets inside or near it). I was in so much physical pain, discomfort and sadness whenever I had to have a suppository, and wasn’t given the chance to voice it or ask for another option. I understand medically why they may be needed (and definitely better than suffering worse because of not going to do a “number 2”). I just want parents to understand that they can have a negative effect. Your daughter may be fine with them.

      I hope this helps. I also recommend to minimalist eating Bananas and apples, and increase fibre/roughage in the diet. Take care. If you have any more questions then feel free to post here again or e-mail me: naturegirl015@themagicwithinus.com



  9. Hi, I just discovered, TONIGHT that I suffered from a disorder! From age seven, to age 14 I suffered from encopresis! I am near 30 now and I I remember the very night my encopresis began! I think it started from stress. At age seven my mom started dating a man who was to become my stepdad, after her raising me alone from birth. We were on a sort of family date at the fair and I had to go and decided to hold it. From that night on, my number of actual sitdown bowel movements became around one to two per month, and they were massive and painful. The rest of the time my underwear were perpetually soiled. I was made from age seven to do my own laundry separate from the families because of this. My parents assumed I did not wipe enough. I did become fairly desensitized to the odor. It wasn’t until I was fourteen, on a family trip that I began succumbing to the ordinary urge to go, and eventually became regular. Since then it has not been a problem, but I am so glad to have found out A. That I wasn’t alone, and B. That I wasn’t the dirty gross kid I was worried I was. I think it took the 15 years of normality for me to even feel like I could investigate what may have been wrong with me. Your article was an inspiration.

    P.S. I think the certain knowledge at fourteen that I wanted to spend more close up time with girls helped me overcome what I think began as a stress based neurosis and became a physical condition.


    1. Hi Shelby. Wow, that’s wonderful news. Thank you for sharing your story with me. You are definitely not alone anymore, and the more fellow Encopresis survivors open up and connect with each other, the more our Enco family increases. I’m 27 myself. It’s true that it can take several years to gain the confidence in yourself and share your story without fear of the negative stigma Encopresis has. i’m so proud of you and support you all the way. The hardest part is taking that huge step and just telling one person about the condition. The more people you tell the easier it slowly becomes.

      I’m really happy that you have found inspiration in my blog. This blog is for people like you, to help create awareness, love and support for everyone involved. If you want to you can always e-mail me: naturegirl015admin@themagicwithinus.com or add me on Facebook. Take care, be strong, keep smiling, keep reading and remember that you are NOT alone anymore! Thank you.


      P.S. Don’t forget to Subscribe to the blog, connect and keep up to date.


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