Treatments for Bowel Control & Incontinence
Changes in your bowels can be physically uncomfortable, embarrassing and even disruptive to your lifestyle. If you’re experiencing bowel leakage, known by the clinical term as bowel incontinence, you may feel like you’re losing control of your own body.
But there are ways to combat your symptoms so that you can get back to feeling more like yourself again.
Bowel incontinence can be brought on by several factors including diarrhea and chronic constipation. Increasing your intake of fiber rich foods can add bulk to a watery stool and move things along (so to speak) so you’re no longer constipated.
Foods high in fiber include fruit, vegetables, whole wheat pasta and bread, brown rice, nuts, and beans. Adding more fluid to your diet can greatly help with constipation, too. A simple change such as replacing other beverages with water can make a difference. It may also help to avoid fluids that trigger diarrhea such as milk, caffeinated drinks, or alcohol.
We all know that exercise is great for our overall health. But did you know that low impact activity like walking a few times a week in your neighborhood or at the mall can alleviate your stool from building up? When things move along as they should there’s no liquid back up around the more solid stool so there’s no seepage. Another good reason to put on those sneakers and get going!
You might be surprised to learn that there are specific exercises that you can learn from a specially trained therapist that can strengthen your anal and pelvic floor muscles, which in turn alleviates bowel leakage. When weakened or damaged, these muscles can’t do their job well which causes the symptoms you’re experiencing.
The Pelvic Floor & Continence Center offers pelvic physical therapy with a specially trained physical therapist in a private one-one-one setting. The physical therapist creates individualized treatment programs to improve pelvic floor muscle function, gain control over symptoms and reduce the need for medication and possibly surgery.
Treatments may include:
- Pelvic Floor Exercises. These exercises (also known as kegel exercises) can help both men and women gain more control over their bowel movements and urination. These exercises could help improve the strength of the sphincter and pelvic floor muscles and improve bowel control and bladder control.
- Biofeedback. Depending on your symptoms and level of comfort, your physical therapist may gently employ electrodes to measure your pelvic-floor muscle activity. The biofeedback obtained can help make you more aware of the correct way to use your pelvic-floor muscles.
- Muscle strengthening exercises. Your physical therapist will teach you specific exercises to stretch and strengthen other important muscles that help support proper bowel and bladder function.
- Electrical stimulation. Your physical therapist may apply gentle electrical stimulation to help improve your awareness of your muscle function.
If your symptoms are not be relieved by diet or exercise, there are other options. Our specially trained doctors can discuss several procedures that may help you return to better health.
InterStim Therapy is the use of an implantable device that gently stimulates the nerves that influence the behavior of your pelvic floor muscles so that you can have more control over your bowels.
Sometimes incontinence is caused by damage and weakening of tissue that would normally help control your bowel movements. Non-absorbable bulking agent injections can bulk up the tissue around your bowel area. The bulkier tissues make the opening more narrow so the muscles around your bowels are able to close better.
In some cases, surgery is the best choice to resolve a problem. If you are experiencing bowel leakage as a result of your bowel muscles being separated during childbirth or from an injury, sphincteroplasty may be the solution for you. Sphincteroplasty is the most common surgical treatment available and it involves reconnecting the separated ends so that you can have bowel control once again.
Another surgical option that your doctor may consider is bowel diversion surgery or colostomy. Your doctor would make a small opening in your abdomen so your stool would collect in a pouch. Although this procedure doesn’t restore continence, it may allow you to get back to the activities you love.
Our doctors will help you find the right treatment and are specially trained in the latest procedures so that you can live your life to the fullest again.