Diarrhoea is a common side effect of radiation therapy to your lower stomach and pelvis area if your bowel is in the treatment area.
You may develop loose bowel movements and find you need t go more than normal.
Diarrhoea may start about 2-3 weeks after your treatment has started.
- Sitz baths – a warm, shallow salt water bath using 1 tablespoon of salt to 4 litres of warm water.
Ask you treatment team about medication or if you have any questions.
Constipation may be due to a number of causes. Constipation is common and needs to be treated early. If bowels not opened for greater than 2 days or what is outside your normal routine let your doctor or nurse know.
For relief of constipation
- Increase fluid intake
- Gentle exercise where possible
- Increase your diet to high fibre including whole grains, fruit and vegetables until constipation settles
- Take laxatives as recommended by your doctor.
These can include:
- Blood in urine
- Inability to urinate
If you experience any of these symptoms please tell your doctor or nurse.
Stay well hydrated.
Intimacy and sexuality
Radiation therapy can affect a person’s fertility and sex life.
Your doctor will discuss this with you prior to commencing treatment. Some radiation treatments may cause temporary or permanent infertility. Tiredness or feeling unwell may affect your desire for intimacy.
- It is important to use barrier contraception (condom) to avoid pregnancy.
- Inform your doctor immediately if you think you may be pregnant.
- Women may experience menstrual changes (irregular periods or cease causing menopausal symptoms).
Good communication and support will help during your treatment. If you have any concerns or questions discuss this with your doctor or nurse.
A side effect of radiation to the pelvis is the development of scar tissue in your vagina.
This scar tissue can cause your vagina to narrow or close, it may shorten the length and may cause your vagina to become dry, tender and less elastic.
The dilator should be used at least 2-3 times a week for 5 minutes at a time. If you are having sexual intercourse regularly, vaginal dilation is still required however may not be needed as often.
A nurse will speak to you at the end of your treatment about using dilators.