top of page

Bowel Leakage (Fecal Incontinence)

Can’t Control Your Poop? - You don’t need to live this way – We Can Help! 

What happens when you simply cannot wait to get to a restroom and accidentally poop?  Fecal or bowel incontinence refers to when you simply do not have the ability to control your bowel movements, causing stool (poop) to leak unexpectedly from your rectum.  Although it is not apparent, bowel control problems are extremely common; however, many individuals do not want address this condition with their physician due to the embarrassment.  In some cases, patients who have shared this concern with their physician never received the suitable solution for it. Therefore, most individuals simply tolerate the condition unnecessarily with eventually forcing them to constantly be near a rest room and isolating themselves socially.  If you suffer from bowel control issues, you know how much they can negatively impact your quality of life.  It’s time to speak up and get back to living your life.

 

 

Nearly 18 million adults in the United States, which is about 1 in 12 adults, have unsatisfactory control of their bowel movements.  Despite stool incontinence being more common in adults over the age of 50, all ages can be affected by it, although it is slightly more susceptible in women than it is in men.  You are at a higher risk if you have:

  • Diarrhea

  • Constipation

  • Urgency or the sense of having very little time to get to the toilet

  • Injury to the nervous system such as stroke or spinal cord injury

  • Injury to the pelvic floor such as trauma from a difficult child birth

  • Muscle or nerve damage associated with age or child birth

  • Poor overall health from chronic conditions such as diabetes and multiple sclerosis

  • History of diminished satisfactory control of both bladder and bowel

 

Our understanding of fecal incontinence, also known as anal incontinence, bowel incontinence, stool incontinence or accidental bowel leakage is a loss of control over the most natural ability to properly eliminate your stool. This includes a variety of symptoms often involving controlling your gas, liquid stool, mucus or solid feces. Fecal incontinence is a symptom, not a diagnosis.  The inability to detect the need to evacuate becomes an immensely stressful situation often embarrassing individual and limiting their social exposure.  There are effective therapies that can make a significant impact on an individual’s outcome.  Our practice will tailor to your needs and will be able to offer excellent therapy including the most trusted nerve stimulation therapy.

 

 

There are many causes of fecal incontinence that vary among individuals, many individuals may suffer from a combination of causes, such as:

  • Diarrhea or Constipation: These conditions cause the muscles in the rectum and anus to weaken. When these muscles weaken, the ability to hold stool within the body also weakens.  Chronic constipation where stool leaks around a large stool ball, can lead to fecal incontinence.

 

  • Muscle Damage: Muscle damage can occur during a difficult vaginal childbirth, for example when doctors have to use forceps or make a small cut at the opening of the vagina during childbirth to make a larger opening. Muscle damage can also result from anal or rectal surgery.

  • Age: Muscles in the rectum and anus naturally weaken with age.  Other nearby structures in the pelvis area also loosens with age. Loose stool is more difficult to manage than solid stool. When a large amount of loose stool arrives rapidly in the rectum, there may not be enough warning to reach the bathroom in time, thus resulting in accidents.

 

  • Nerve Damage/Malfunction:  Bowel leakage can occur if the nerves that regulate the ability of the rectum and anus muscles are damaged.  Bowel leakage can also occur if the nerves are responsible for the sensation of needing to defecate are damaged.  Nerve damage can occur during difficult vaginal childbirth, anal surgery, constipation that results in bouts of frequent and severe straining, or the presence of certain health conditions such as diabetes, multiple sclerosis, stroke, or a spinal tumor.

  • Inability of the Rectum to Stretch:  If the muscles of the rectum are not as elastic as they should be, excess stool that builds up can leak out. Causes that affect the rectum’s ability to stretch are Inflammatory Bowel Disease (such as Crohn’s disease), scars resulting from surgery, and radiation therapy (which can stiffen the rectal muscles).

 

  • Other medical conditions: Certain medical conditions, such as rectal prolapse (the rectum falls down into the anus), rectocele (the rectum pushes into the vagina), or neurologic disorders.

 

  • Other causes: Laxative abuse, dietary factors, obstetric injury combined with menopause, perianal fistula, structural anorectal abnormalities, radiation treatments, certain nervous system and congenital (inherited) defects, inflammation (swelling), and inflammatory bowel disease may affect the ability to regulate stool.

 

 

Symptoms of fecal incontinence can range from the mild occasional leakage of a small quantity of stool while passing gas to severe unwanted bowel accidents in public with the inability to maintain hygiene due to soiling or dirtying your underclothes.  Common symptoms include:

  • Inability to hold a bowel movement before reaching the toilet

  • Inability to control the passing of gas/stools

  • Gas or bloating

  • Loss of storage capacity in the rectum

  • Muscle damage or weakness

  • Diarrhea

  • Constipation

  • Being unaware that you are having a bowel movement

  • Repeated urges to have a bowel movement

  • Spotting of feces or complete soiling of underclothes

 

If there is bleeding with lack of bowel control, consult your physician as soon as possible. Bleeding may indicate a rectal tumor, rectal prolapse, inflammation within the tissues of the colon and rectum, or conditions that include Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s disease. All of these conditions require prompt evaluation by a physician. 

 

We will work with you to determine the probable causes of fecal incontinence, beginning with obtaining a complete medical history which consists of asking you about your symptoms, bowel habits, diet, medication and other medical issues. We will examine you to assess the integrity of your muscles and determine if you need additional radiologic exams to assist in our ability to further bring you back to a baseline of acceptable control of your condition. 

Part of the evaluation may include necessary testing that can include: colonoscopy, radiologic studies and overall evaluation of medication, dietary intake and possible evaluation of food inflammation testing (FIT). We would then proceed to tailor your care based on your symptoms and evaluation. 

It is important that symptoms be evaluated by a colon-rectal surgeon before you try self-treatment.  A colon-rectal surgeon will perform a thorough examination and recommend treatment.  The physicians at Connecticut Colon & Rectal Surgery, LLC will take many factors into account based on your evaluation and develop an individualized treatment plan.  If your symptoms are mild, a nonsurgical approach may be advised.  However, if your symptoms are severe, surgical therapy may be recommended.

 

Non-Surgical recommendations are tailored per individual and may include dietary modifications, food supplements, evaluating current management of your treatment for other digestive disorders, evacuation aids, pelvic floor exercises, and medication regimen to help you take back control of your bowel function. 

 

In the case of surgical therapy, our physicians are certified in the latest advancements in the treatment of fecal incontinence utilizing Sacral Nerve Neuromodulation with safe effective MRI compatible device, and may offer sacral nerve stimulation as a therapy.  Sacral nerve stimulation therapy works on improving your ability to detect the urge to eliminate by improving the messaging from the muscles of control back to your nervous system.  If you are a candidate, we will ask you to take the test to see if this advancement in incontinence is the right treatment for you. Many of those who qualify after taking the test, often undergo a trial exam first. If you are a candidate, then we invite you to say “Yes to the Test”. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more information about Sacral Neuromodulation, click on the button below or scan the QR code below.

 

The symptoms of fecal incontinence may worsen over time.  If you want to take back control of your life, please call our office at (860) 826-3880 or request an appointment online.  If appropriate and availability allows, a consultation appointment will be scheduled for you to be seen by one of our experienced physicians, generally, within a two-week timeframe of contacting the office.  Procedures are generally scheduled shortly thereafter.

Learn the Facts

Why am I Leaking Poop? - The Known Causes

What are the Symptoms of Fecal Incontinence?

How is Fecal Incontinence Diagnosed?

How can Fecal Incontinence be Treated?

bottom of page