Urge to have bowel movement when passing urine

Hi, I have just finished radiotherapy for prostate cancer.

Although I only finished treatment 4 days ago I am concerned that I am waking up every hour desperate to urinate. I am unable to urinate because of urgent need to have a bowel movement.

I dont need a bowel movement but I constantly try and after the effort can then urinate a small amouny.

The lack of sleep is debilitating.

Is this normal and if so will it get better?

Thanks for any information

  • Good morning ,


    My name is Amy and I am one of the Cancer Information Nurse Specialists on the Macmillan Support Line. Welcome to our online community and thanks for posting your question. I hope you have found the prostate cancer forum helpful and supportive.


    I’m sorry to hear your sleep is being affected so much. It’s no wonder you feel it’s debilitating when you are waking every hour or so to go to the toilet.


    It’s important to remember radiotherapy continues to work for around 2 weeks after having your final session. So, for many people the symptoms continue and even get worse in the few weeks following. After 2-3 weeks many people then start to see and feel a gradual improvement in symptoms.

    Sometimes the side effects can be longer lasting.


    Radiotherapy can irritate the lining of the bladder and bowel and cause swelling in the prostate. This can lead to symptoms you describe, such as:


    • Feeling like you need to go to the toilet more often
    • Have sudden urge to empty your bowel or bladder
    • Difficulty emptying bladder (retention)
    • Feeling like your bowels haven’t emptied properly



    Drinking 2-3 litres of fluids a day can help. Also avoid caffeine, fizzy drinks and alcohol.


    We always recommend getting in touch with your cancer team or radiotherapy treatment line number for advice. They may recommend making diet changes or prescribe medication or creams to help. Even though you have finished radiotherapy you can still contact the treatment line number.


    If there is anything you are unsure of or want to chat through in more detail, please don’t hesitate to give the support line a call. We are available 8am-8pm, 7 days a week on 0808 808 0000.


    I hope this helps.


    Best wishes, 

    Amy C, Cancer Information Nurse Specialist 


    You can also speak with the Macmillan Support Line team of experts. Phone free on 0808 808 0000 (7 days a week, 8am-8pm) or send us an email

    Ref: AC/RH