Prevalence of disturbed bowel functions and its association with disturbed bladder and sexual functions in the male population


  • Declaration of personal interests: None.
  • Author contributions: KA Gwee: study conceptualization, planning and supervision, data analysis, manuscript writing; DJC Png and ML Wong: study conceptualization, planning and supervision, and manuscript review; KTH Siah, S Wee and RK Wong: data analysis and manuscript review.


Associate Professor Kok-Ann Gwee, Gleneagles Hospital, Annexe Block 05-37, 6A Napier Road, Singapore 258500, Singapore. Email:


Background and Aim

Chronic constipation is usually associated with young women, and urinary and sexual dysfunction has been reported as co-morbidity. Elderly men also appear to suffer from chronic constipation, as well as lower urinary tract symptoms and erectile dysfunction, but their association as co-morbidity has not been studied in the community. The aim of the present study was to determine the prevalence of bowel symptoms in our community with particular reference to the association with urinary and sexual dysfunction in the male population.


A population-based cross–sectional survey involving 2276 subjects (1143 male, 1133 female) representative of the Singapore population demographics was conducted to evaluate the prevalence of chronic bowel disturbances, lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS), and erectile dysfunction (ED).


The prevalence of chronic constipation was 25.1% overall, with the highest in men aged ≥ 70 years (35.8%) followed by women aged 20–29 years (30.5%). The commonest symptoms reported in chronic constipation were hard stool (95.1%), straining (90.9%) and incomplete evacuation (53.8%). Bloating was often experienced by 25.5% of the community, among whom 61.1% had some form of bowel disturbance. In men aged ≥ 30 years, LUTS (7.8% v 3.1%) and ED (60.5% v 48.6%) were more common in men with than without chronic constipation; constipation was an independent predictor of ED.


In this Asian urban community, chronic constipation was more common than previously suspected, and urinary and erectile dysfunction were found to be co-morbidity in men.