Although fecal incontinence can have a devastating impact on one's quality of life, it is important to keep in mind that there are available treatment options. If you have been experiencing episodes of fecal soiling, your first step is to discuss the problem with your doctor. Your doctor will not only help you to figure out why you are experiencing incontinence, but will also work with you to explore your various treatment options and come up with a management plan. As you will see, there are a wide range of available treatments. What works for you will depend on your diagnosis and the severity of your problem.
Therapy OptionsThere are several therapeutic treatment strategies for dealing with fecal incontinence:
Kegel exercises are a specific type of exercise that target and strengthen your pelvic floor muscles and are frequently recommended for the treatment of fecal incontinence.
If your fecal incontinence is related to constipation, with wet stool leaking out around the hard mass, you might want to try bowel retraining, a way to try to encourage your body to develop a regular schedule of bowel movements:
Biofeedback is a type of therapy in which you get computer feedback while you are performing kegel exercises. Biofeedback was traditionally recommended as a routine treatment for fecal incontinence, but newer research calls into question whether biofeedback offers any unique benefit. If you are considering biofeedback, speak with your physician as to whether biofeedback is appropriate for your specific diagnosis.
Your doctor may recommend a medication to address the underlying cause of your incontinence. For diarrhea sufferers, there is over-the counter Imodium, as well as several kinds of prescription medication. For constipation, your doctor might recommend a prescription medication, a stool softener, laxative, or a fiber supplement.
Solesta is a gel that is injected into the lining of the anus. This procedure does not require anesthesia and is conducted by a colorectal surgeon. Solesta is thought to bulk up the tissues lining the anus, thus allowing for better retention of fecal matter.
SurgeryIf your symptoms do not respond to the above courses of treatment, there are surgical options to address your incontinence:
- Repair of the anal sphincter: This can be accomplished through several different procedures -- re-attaching rectal muscles, transplantation of thigh muscle to the rectum, or the use of an artificial sphincter device.
- Rectal injections: Options include stimulation of the nerves in the pelvic area and injecting bulking agents directly into the anus.
- Colostomy: This procedure creates an artificial abdominal opening through which stool is diverted to a pouch located outside of the body.
Landefeld, C. et.al. National Institutes of Health State-of-the-Science Conference Statement: Prevention of Fecal and Urinary Incontinence in Adults Annals of Internal Medicine 2008 148:449-458.
Norton, C. Fecal Incontinence and Biofeedback Therapy Gastroenterology Clinics of North America 2008 37:587-604.
International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders "Reporters Guide to Bowel Incontinence".
National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC) "Fecal Incontinence".
DISCLAIMER: The information contained on this site is for educational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for diagnosis or treatment rendered by a licensed physician. It is essential that you discuss with your doctor any symptoms or medical problems that you may be experiencing.