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Fecal Incontinence

Center for Vaginal Surgery and Urogynecology

Urogynecologists located in St. Louis, MO

The inability to control your bowels, or fecal incontinence, can lead to some embarrassing moments. It’s characterized by occasional leakage of feces when you pass gas or the complete loss of bowel control. Expert urogynecologist Dionysios Veronikis, MD, at the Center for Vaginal Surgery and Urogynecology in St. Louis can help. Don’t live in embarrassment. Call the office or book online if you’re bothered by fecal incontinence.

Fecal Incontinence Q & A

When is fecal incontinence diagnosed?

When stool leaks from your rectum inadvertently or you completely lose control of your bowels, you have fecal incontinence. You may experience it as a temporary side effect of diarrhea or constipation. However, if it’s a chronic or recurrent condition, your fecal incontinence needs treatment. 

Fecal incontinence may be accompanied by other intestinal issues, such as abdominal discomfort and constipation. Fecal incontinence often interferes with work, relationships, social activities, and your self-esteem. You may find it impossible to do many of the activities you love.

Why do I have fecal incontinence?

Fecal incontinence can occur because of illness, aging, or injury. Specific causes include:

  • Rectal prolapse
  • Muscle damage to the anal sphincter, the muscles around the end of your rectum
  • Stiffness in the walls of the rectum that limit its storage capacity
  • Damage to the nerves in the rectum that sense stool
  • Surgery for hemorrhoids or veins in the rectum that causes nerve or muscle damage

While a stomach virus that results in diarrhea or a bout of constipation can cause temporary fecal incontinence, if these conditions become chronic, come see Dr. Veronikis.

How is fecal incontinence treated?

If you have recurrent fecal incontinence, Dr. Veronikis may recommend medications as an option. These include:

  • Antidiarrheal drugs
  • Bulk laxatives
  • Injectable bulking agents

Dietary changes can sometimes help if you have fecal incontinence due to constipation. Adding more fibrous foods and ample hydration keeps things moving so you have more regular movements and fewer accidents.

If your incontinence is due to muscle damage, Dr. Veronikis may recommend physical therapy that helps restore strength to your anal sphincter.

In some cases, Dr. Veronikis suggests surgery to correct a problem such as rectal prolapse, severe hemorrhoids, or damage to the anal sphincter. Women sometimes experience these issues as a result of childbirth. Surgery involves muscle repair of the area around the rectum or a full sphincter replacement.

If fecal incontinence is a chronic problem that affects your quality of life, don’t hesitate to contact the Center for Urogynecology and Pelvic Reconstructive Surgery or book an appointment using the online tool today.