What Are Non-Surgical Treatments?
If fecal incontinence is mild or moderate, you may benefit from the use of bulk laxatives or anti-diarrheal medication. Some people also notice improvements with dietary changes or exercises that target muscles in the anal/rectal area. Other non-surgical treatments for a loss of bowel control include:
- Bowel training – e.g., scheduling bowel movements as much as possible
- Bulking agent injections to thicken anal walls
- Sacral nerve stimulation (SNS)
- Indirect stimulation of pelvic/bowel nerves (posterior tibial nerve stimulation)
How Might a Loss of Bowel Control Be Treated Surgically?
With more severe issues with a loss of bowel control, surgery may be performed to strengthen the anal sphincter (sphincteroplasty) or repair it (dynamic graciloplasty). Another option is the insertion of an artificial anal sphincter. Surgery may also involve:
- Surgical correction of prolapse issues
- Removal of hemorrhoids
- Bowel diversion (colostomy) if a loss of bowel control is severe and associated with structural problems that cannot be sufficiently corrected
- An implant (InterStim system) to stimulate the sacral nerves with low-level pulses of electricity in order to improve communication between the brain and the bowels
Reducing constipation by drinking more water, eating more high-fiber foods, and avoiding excessive straining when going to the bathroom are among the possible ways to reduce your risk of developing issues with a loss of bowel control. It can also be beneficial to deal with intestinal infections as early as possible to avoid problems with diarrhea that could contribute to fecal incontinence.