Fecal or bowel incontinence refers to the involuntary loss of gas, liquid or solid stool (feces). Those who suffer from this condition have difficulty controlling gas or bowel movements and often feel self-conscious and embarrassed. Fecal incontinence can range from an occasional leakage of stool while passing gas to a complete loss of bowel control.
If you suffer from these problems you are not alone. Fecal incontinence is a common condition — especially in women and older people. Surveys indicate that fecal incontinence affects up to 7 percent of the general population – that’s over 20 million people!
Yet many with this problem shy away from talking about it and do not seek help. This is unfortunate because many treatments — some of them simple — are available that can improve, if not correct, fecal incontinence.
A common cause of fecal incontinence is a result of childbirth in which injury to the nerves and muscles of the rectum and anus can cause a woman to lose control of her bowel movements. Other common causes of fecal incontinence include constipation, diarrhea, and muscle or nerve damage from neurologic disorders. The condition may also be due to a weakened anal sphincter associated with aging.
Whatever the cause, fecal incontinence can often undermine one’s self-confidence, create anxiety and lead to social isolation. It may cause you to stay at home and withdraw from social events because you’re afraid of an accident.
The good news is that fecal incontinence is a treatable condition. We see many patients who suffer from this problem and in the majority of cases, we have effective and non-invasive treatment options with outstanding results.
Treatment options that we offer include a combination of medications, behavioral changes and a pelvic floor rehabilitation program. In some patients a surgical procedure may additionally be recommended. We can help lessen symptoms in most cases and can often completely cure incontinence.