Fecal incontinence, also known as bowel or anal incontinence, can be an embarrasing condition. The loss of control over your bowels can impact your life, making it difficult to socialize with others or even admit what you’re dealing with.
But you’re not alone. In the United States, more than 5.5 million people experience fecal incontinence, with women and seniors at greater risk. Treatments are available to help you get back to normal life, but first you need to get past the embarrassment and ask for help.
If you’re a woman in the Boston, Massachusetts, area struggling with fecal incontinence, Dr. Neeraj Kohli and the experienced team at BostonUrogyn offer personalized treatment for a variety of urogynecological conditions, including fecal incontinence.
The loss of bowel control associated with this condition can develop a few ways. You might experience what’s known as urge incontinence, where you feel the need to go to the bathroom but aren’t able to make it in time.
Or you might pass stool without realizing it, called passive incontinence. This may result in the involuntary loss of small amounts of stool, or a complete voiding of your bowels. This condition can appear occasionally or it may be chronic, meaning it happens on a regular basis.
To have normal bowel movements, your pelvic muscles, rectum, anal sphincter muscles, and nervous system need to function properly. Injuries or other problems with any of these can lead to problems with fecal incontinence.
Here are some conditions that can lead to fecal incontinence by affecting one or more of these body parts:
Age, dementia, and physical disability can all increase the risk of this condition. Fecal incontinence can also cause ulcers (sores) that require medical treatment.
To determine the most effective treatment for your fecal incontinence, Dr. Kohli performs a thorough exam to determine the cause of your condition. Depending on what he finds, he may recommend:
If constipation or diarrhea is contributing to your condition, dietary changes may be in order. Eliminating foods that cause constipation and diarrhea can help to normalize bowel movements.
Loperamide, codeine, or diphenoxylate/atropine can slow down large intestine movement, allowing for stool to pass more slowly. If constipation is causing your issues, methylcellulose (Citrucel®) and psyllium (Metamucil®) can help get things back to normal.
These are designed to help strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, located at the bottom of your pelvis, to help stabilize your bowels, bladder, genitals, and anus. A series of contracting exercises help restore your muscles, allowing you better control of bowel movements.
This technique uses electronics to help you retrain the anal sphincters, a normally autonomic bodily function that you can learn to control.
If more conservative methods aren’t working, Dr. Kohli may suggest the minimally invasive InterStim system. This is an FDA-approved implant that provides electrical stimulation to your sacral nerves, which can normalize communication between your bowel and brain.
For more severe cases of fecal incontinence, Dr. Kohli may recommend surgery.
Fecal incontinence is a delicate condition that people are understandably embarrassed to discuss, but to fix the problem, you need to reach out. There are many options for treatment, and Dr. Kohli and BostonUrogyn are here to get you through it.
Call one of our Boston area locations, including Wellesley and South Weymouth, Massachusetts, or book your appointment online today.