If you are experiencing bowel dysfunction, or commonly referred to as incontinence, (the inability to control your bowels), you may find it uncomfortable to talk about it with your doctor. According to the U.S. National Institutes of Health, millions of Americans have this problem. It affects people of all ages and is more common in women and older adults. There's no need to be embarrassed or live with bowel incontinence. The good news is that bowel control problems are manageable and treatable.
We understand the challenges of this condition. At our Pelvic Floor Center, specialists called
urogynecologists and colorectal specialists diagnose and treat your bowel incontinence, so you can get back to enjoying your life.
Bowel incontinence can range from occasional leakage of a small amount of stool to a complete loss of bowel control. For many women, this condition results in social isolation and has a severe impact on the quality of their lives.
Normal bowel control depends on the proper function of your pelvic muscles, rectum (the lower end of the large intestine), sphincter muscles (the muscles in the anus), and nervous system. Bowel incontinence is usually caused when one or more of these body parts stops working properly.
Causes of bowel incontinence include:
Childbirth by vaginal delivery
Chronic laxative abuse
Complication from bowel surgery
Hemorrhoids (swollen and inflamed veins around your anus or in your lower rectum)
Loss of stretch in the rectum
Muscle damage or weakness
Physical or mental disability
Radiation treatment for cancer
Rectal prolapse (when the rectum falls from its normal position within the pelvic area)
Tumors in the rectum
Vaginal prolapse (when the vagina falls from its normal location inside the pelvis)
Bowel dysfunction risk factors
that can increase your risk for having bowel incontinence are:
Diarrhea three or more times a day
Difficult childbirth with injuries to the pelvic floor
Disease of the nervous system
Poor overall health
A sense of urgency prior to a bowel movement
Bowel dysfunction symptoms
incontinence may happen to you only occasionally or it may be a total lack of
control. You should visit your doctor and discuss your symptoms if you are
An inability to hold in gas
An inability to reach the bathroom in time
Frequent or occasional accidental leakage
Silent leakage of feces during daily activities
When to see a doctor
many people are reluctant to talk to their doctor about symptoms of bowel
incontinence, it is important for you to see your doctor if you start having
any of the above symptoms. Treatment is available and there is no need to
suffer in silence.
you think you have bowel incontinence? Discuss your concerns with one of our
At our Pelvic Floor Center, our multidisciplinary team provides a complete range of the most advanced diagnostic and treatment options available for bowel incontinence and other pelvic floor condition.
Do you have more questions about your bowel function but not yet ready to make an appointment with a doctor? Contact our ezCare Concierge nurse navigator, a free, confidential service designed to help you navigate the best next steps for you and your health.