Bladder and fecal incontinence are prevalent albeit less frequently discussed conditions that often cause emotional, social, psychological, and physical impacts. Incontinence affects a large number of patients in the United States and can obstruct a patient’s quality of living in a variety of instances. Individuals may experience bladder or bowel incontinence, or a combination of both, which can differ in the scale of intensity and dysfunction. Countless patients consider talking about urinary or bowel incontinence highly uncomfortable, even when it is with a medical provider. This creates an obstruction to care for a large number of people.
In many cases, even occasional incidences of incontinence might restrict a person’s willingness to take part in activities or events outside of the home. The notion of being away from home for too long or needing to use the bathroom urgently keeps many from enjoying a high quality of living. Should you or someone you love have urinary or fecal incontinence (or both), know that you are not all alone. Furthermore, treatments are in use to help you restore bladder and bowel control and enhance your comfort and confidence.
Accidental bowel or urinary leakage is a serious worry for a multitude of adults throughout the country. The skilled gastrointestinal (GI) doctors at Adult Gastroenterology Associates offer personalized care for incontinence concerns, including an advanced treatment called sacral neuromodulation (SNM). We encourage you to contact our GI specialists right away to discover more about urinary and bowel incontinence and to explore your options for care.
What leads to the loss of urinary control?
Defined as the loss of control over bladder function, urinary incontinence causes individuals to accidentally leak urine. Incontinence encompasses a variety of concerns, including overflow incontinence, overactive bladder (OAB) or urgency incontinence, urinary retention, and stress incontinence. The risk of developing this problem is greater for individuals over age 50; however, adults of all ages may be susceptible. As a matter of fact, the National Association for Continence has reported that greater than 25 million individuals across the nation deal with bladder incontinence every day. Common factors leading to urinary incontinence include the following:
- Birth trauma
- Pelvic floor dysfunction
- Defects in normal anatomy
- History of surgery
- Ongoing constipation
- Damage to the nerves
- Certain medications
- Infection in the pelvic organs
What causes bowel leakage?
While numerous adults in Tulsa, Oklahoma find it uncomfortable to ask for help with urinary incontinence, concern over bowel leakage is often even more embarrassing to acknowledge. Bowel dysfunction, or lacking the ability to control bowel movements, can include anything from sporadic bowel leakage to a complete loss of bowel control. Studies reveal that 1.8 – 18% of individuals in the United States face fecal incontinence, per the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons. Some of the factors that lead to fecal incontinence are listed below:
- Chronic diarrhea or constipation
- Age-related muscle weakness
- Damage to the nerves
- Prolapse of the rectum
- Previous surgeries
- Defects in normal anatomy
- Birth trauma
- Conditions involving the central nervous system (CNS)
- Irritable bowel diseases
- Excessive laxative use
Are urinary incontinence and fecal incontinence linked?
Bladder and fecal incontinence affect double the amount of women compared to men. Though they may arise on an individual basis or in tandem, there is a physiological connection between these problems. The brain and muscles responsible for bladder and bowel control work in tandem to facilitate urinary and fecal activities. If neural communications involving the brain and these muscles are interrupted, varying conditions of incontinence may arise. Overall, both bladder and fecal incontinence could result when a person’s brain does not transmit the proper messages to the muscles that regulate bladder and bowel tasks.
How is bladder and bowel incontinence treated?
The options for treating cases of fecal and bladder incontinence commonly begin with conservative therapies, including modifying diet and fluid intake, medications, and pelvic floor exercises. This approach may incorporate adding additional fiber to daily nutritional intake, or decreasing the consumption of caffeine or additional products that produce diuretic results. While several therapeutic measures have been developed for treating bladder incontinence, not many therapies are available for addressing cases of fecal incontinence, outside of sacral neuromodulation.
What is sacral neuromodulation (SNM) treatment?
Sacral neuromodulation treatment is a minimally invasive way to treat incontinence. It is achieved through the strategic placement of a small electrical device, similar to a pacemaker. It is a long-lasting treatment option that has produced therapeutic success for a high percentage of patients. Furthermore, patients are able to do a trial period in advance to determine if it is effective for them.
How does a sacral nerve stimulator treat incontinence?
Candidates for sacral neuromodulation generally undergo a 7 to 14-day trial phase to begin the treatment process. The sacral neurostimulator is then positioned via a minimally invasive, minor surgery carried out by a GI doctor at Adult Gastroenterology Associates. SNM is a restorative treatment that helps normalize the function of the pelvic structures by improving communication between the brain and muscles responsible for urinary and fecal processes. The sacral neurostimulator is charged by the individual every 2 – 4 weeks through an external source and needs only a short period of time to recharge. Most SNM therapy patients report the recharging process to be an efficient and relatively easy process.
Is SNM therapy an effective way to treat urinary and fecal incontinence?
Adult Gastroenterology Associates is excited to offer SNM as an effective, safe, and long-lasting approach to managing urinary or fecal incontinence in adults. It is clinically proven to treat overactive bladder, urinary incontinence, urinary retention, and bowel incontinence. Studies conducted indicate that sacral neuromodulation treatment has a high success rate and high rate of patient satisfaction for both urinary and fecal incontinence factors, and also features a very high safety profile. SNM has demonstrated success in adults for whom a conservative approach to therapy was ineffective, can enable considerable quality of life improvements, and is tied to a much lower frequency of incontinence events.