Bowel Treatments

Bladder and bowel problems often originate with nerve or muscle dysfunction, as these systems control the flow of urine and the release of stool.

  • Many women find that dietary fiber helps them to keep bowel control problems, both fecal incontinence and constipation. Also, it is important to drink enough water, especially when using fiber, to help keep the stools soft. In addition, specialized physical therapists can perform biofeedback to improve the pelvic muscle strength, tone and endurance.
  • For both kinds of bowel control problems—fecal incontinence and constipation—there are the following conservative (non-surgical) options:
  • Changing the diet. Gradually increasing the fiber intake can help manage the diarrhea and constipation that can lead to fecal incontinence. Drinking plenty of fluids can also ease constipation. Some individuals may be able to identify dietary triggers for their bladder dysfunction. Common triggers may include coffee and alcohol. Excessive fluid intake may worsen problems with bladder control.
  • Taking medications. Some medications, including fiber supplements, can help control bowel dysfunction, and antidiarrheal medications can help manage diarrhea.
  • Training. Programs that “train” the bowels and bladder can give you better control and manage dysfunction. This includes setting a regular schedule for using the toilet and attempting to urinate or have bowel movements at the same time each day.
  • Exercising. Kegel exercises can strengthen the sphincter muscles and pelvic floor. This can provide better control and ease bladder and bowel dysfunction.
  • Physical therapy for the pelvic floor with biofeedback.
  • Undergoing electrical stimulation. In appropriate cases, this therapy can stimulate damaged nerves, promote better muscle control, and help you control urine and feces.
  • Nerve Stimulation (SNS) can be helpful for both chronic fecal incontinence and chronic constipation when more conservative treatments have failed.
  • Bulking Agents can be effective for women with moderate symptoms. Bulking agents are injected into the anal canal. This option does not work for everyone and about half of the women who choose this option.
  • Overlapping Anal Sphincteroplasty is possible for some woman with surgery. However, this surgery has a low success rate. Therefore, it is only an option for patients who have a high likelihood of success.
  • Rectocele Repair. If stool is getting “trapped” in the rectocele and seeping out later, repair of a rectocele can sometimes lead to improved bowel emptying.