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Strategies to Manage Fecal Incontinence

Strategies to Manage Fecal Incontinence

Fecal incontinence, also known as bowel incontinence, is the loss of bowel control resulting in the leakage of fecal matter. It’s a difficult and embarrassing condition for millions of people. The condition is most common in older adults.

So if you’re dealing with this awkward and anxiety-inducing condition, you’re not alone. And more importantly, there are treatment options to help manage the condition and get your life back to normal. 

Here at BostonUrogyn in Wellesley and Hudson, Massachusetts, Dr. Neeraj Kohli and our skilled medical team offer personalized care and state-of-the-art facilities to help Boston area women looking for relief from fecal incontinence and other urogynecological conditions.

Understanding fecal incontinence

Whether you occasionally leak stool or are dealing with complete loss of bladder control, fecal incontinence generally stems from a problem with the muscles in your rectum and anus. 

For both of these to work properly, your rectum needs to be able to stretch so it can hold the stool and your anal muscle (sphincter) must be able to shut properly until you can relieve yourself. Lack of bowel control can come in different forms:

Urge incontinence

The most common type of this condition is when you find yourself having an overwhelming urge to defecate but can’t reach the bathroom in time to do so.

Passive incontinence

With this type of incontinence, you might not realize you’re experiencing leakage until it’s too late. With passive incontinence, you might have problems knowing when your rectum is full. 

Fecal incontinence may be accompanied by diarrhea, constipation, gas, and bloating.

Causes of fecal incontinence

People experience fecal incontinence for many reasons, such as:

If your rectum becomes scarred or stiff from surgery, radiation treatment, or bowel disease, it may lose its ability to stretch properly. This can result in a loss of storage capacity.

Management and treatment options

Treatment options vary depending on the cause of your condition. Options include:

Lifestyle changes

Make a list of what you eat and drink for a few days to figure out if any foods are causing problems. Caffeinated beverages, alcohol, spicy foods, fatty foods, and dairy products can worsen incontinence and cause diarrhea and gas. 

Constipation-related incontinence can also be helped by dietary changes, such as eating more fiber-rich foods. Drinking more water can also help soften stool to make passing it easier.

Exercises and therapies

Physical therapy, including biofeedback and Kegel exercises, strengthens your pelvic floor muscles, which can help with releasing stool while supporting your bladder and bowels. 

Bowel training is a way to help you have bowel movements at specific times of the day. Other therapies include sacral nerve stimulation with InterStim™, posterior tibial nerve stimulation (PTNS/TENS), and radiofrequency therapy.

Medications and surgery

Anti-diarrheal drugs can help if diarrhea is causing your fecal incontinence, and bulk laxatives are used to alleviate chronic constipation. Surgical options include sphincteroplasty, colostomy, and surgical correction of conditions including prolapse, rectocele, or hemorrhoids.

Don’t let the embarrassment of fecal incontinence hold you back any longer. Get the relief you deserve by calling us at the BostonUrogyn location nearest you, or request your appointment with Dr. Kohli online today.

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