Is There a Link Between Bladder and Fecal Incontinence?

Urinary and fecal incontinence are widespread yet infrequently mentioned medical issues. These conditions commonly carry a range of social, emotional, psychological, and physical effects. Incontinence impacts millions of U.S. adults and may disrupt an individual's quality of living in a variety of ways. Individuals may experience bladder or bowel incontinence, or even both, which might vary in the extent of dysfunction and intensity. Most people find talking about bladder or fecal incontinence embarrassing, even when it is with a medical provider, which can prevent patients from getting the care they need.

In many cases, even sparse occasions of incontinence may interfere with a person’s readiness to engage in outside events or activities. The notion of being away from home for an extended time or having to visit the restroom at any given moment keeps a large number of adults from enjoying their lives to the fullest If you or a family member have urinary or fecal incontinence (or both), understand that you are not alone. Effective treatments are at hand to help you restore urinary and bowel control and elevate your quality of life.

Unanticipated bowel or bladder leakage is a serious issue for a number of patients. The highly trained gastrointestinal (GI) specialists at Digestive Health Associates of Texas provide expert treatments for incontinence concerns, including a minimally invasive treatment referred to as sacral neuromodulation (SNM). We welcome you to reach out to our Dallas, TX gastroenterologists today to find out more about urinary and fecal incontinence and to review the ideal treatment option for you.

What are the causes of urinary leakage?

Described as the loss of control over bladder function, bladder incontinence causes an individual to accidentally leak urine. Incontinence encompasses a range of concerns, such as urgency incontinence or overactive bladder (OAB), urinary retention, stress incontinence, and overflow incontinence. The probability of having this condition is higher for patients after the age of 50; however, adults of all ages can be impacted. As a matter of fact, the National Association for Continence reports that greater than 25 million people across the nation contend with bladder incontinence daily. Common sources of urinary incontinence are listed below:

- Birth trauma

- Being pregnant

- Menopause

- Pelvic floor dysfunction

- Previous surgery

- Defects in normal anatomy

- Obesity

- Chronic constipation

- Certain medications

- Caffeine

- Infection in the pelvic organs

- Damage to the nerves

What is fecal incontinence?

Even though a lot of Dallas, TX adults consider it uncomfortable to ask for help with urinary leakage, problems with fecal incontinence can be even more difficult to disclose. The inability to control bowel movements, or bowel dysfunction, can range from minor bowel leakage to a complete loss of bowel control. Research reveals that 1.8 – 18% of individuals in the United States are affected by bowel incontinence, as reported by the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons. Some of the factors that lead to bowel incontinence are as follows:

- Excessive use of laxative medications

- Rectal prolapse

- Age-related muscle weakness

- Defects in normal anatomy

- Conditions involving the central nervous system (CNS)

- Irritable bowel diseases

- Birth trauma

- Frequent constipation or diarrhea

- Nerve damage

- Surgery

Are urinary and fecal incontinence connected?

Bladder and fecal incontinence impact double as many women as men. Even though they can occur independently or together, there is a physiological connection between these medical concerns. The brain and muscles responsible for bladder and bowel control work together to manage bladder and bowel capabilities. If neural pathways between the brain and these muscles are damaged, varying degrees of incontinence might develop. Generally, both bladder and fecal incontinence could arise should the brain fail to communicate properly with the muscles that control bladder and bowel tasks.

How is incontinence treated?

Treating urinary and bowel incontinence often begins with conservative therapies, such as pelvic floor exercises, modifying diet and fluid consumption, and medications. This approach may include adding additional fiber to the diet, or cutting back on caffeine consumption and additional products that produce diuretic effects. In the event such therapies are not effective, or patients are not likely candidates for conservative options or other treatments, the GI specialists at Digestive Health Associates of Texas may suggest sacral neuromodulation treatment. While a number of therapeutic treatments have been developed for addressing bladder leakage, there are not many options for treating bowel incontinence, beyond sacral neuromodulation therapy.

What should you know about sacral neuromodulation treatment?

Sacral neuromodulation therapy is a minimally invasive method of treating incontinence that is achieved through the internal placement of a tiny rechargeable stimulator, much like a pacemaker. The stimulator is implanted beside the sacral nerve in the coccyx (tailbone), near the top portion of the buttocks, or gluteus muscles. Authorized for people age 18 or older, SNM therapy is highly suggested by the American Society of Colorectal Surgeons and the American Society of Gastroenterology (second to conservative therapies). SNM offers a long-term solution that has provided treatment success for a large percentage of people. Patients are also able to try it in advance to see how effective it might be for them.

How does SNM therapy work?

People who are candidates for treatment with SNM often complete a 1 to 2-week trial phase to get started with the therapeutic process. The sacral neurostimulator device is then placed by way of a minor, minimally invasive surgical procedure performed by a GI doctor at Digestive Health Associates of Texas. SNM is a restorative approach that regulates the function of the pelvic floor by improving signals between the brain and the muscles that manage bladder and bowel processes. The implanted stimulator is charged by the patient every 2 – 4 weeks by way of an external device and only requires a relatively short recharging period. Most SNM patients find the process of recharging the neurostimulator relatively efficient and simple.

Is sacral neuromodulation an effective way to address bladder and fecal incontinence?

Digestive Health Associates of Texas is excited to offer sacral neuromodulation as a safe, effective, and longer-term option for addressing bladder or fecal incontinence in Dallas, TX adults. It is clinically proven to treat conditions that include bowel incontinence, urinary incontinence, overactive bladder, and urinary retention. Clinical studies reveal that sacral neuromodulation therapy has a high rate of patient satisfaction and treatment success for both urinary and fecal incontinence factors, and also features a very high safety profile. SNM has provided treatment success in people for whom conservative therapies were ineffective and can offer significant quality of life improvements. Additionally, it is associated with considerably lower rates of incontinence events.

Learn more about incontinence treatment in Dallas, TX

The application of sacral neuromodulation has been significant in providing a minimally invasive way to address bladder and fecal incontinence, enhancing the livelihood of people impacted by these issues. At Digestive Health Associates of Texas, we know the embarrassment and concerns people face surrounding bladder and bowel incontinence. Our skilled GI physicians are pleased to offer individualized approaches and confidential appointments to manage these types of health concerns with the highest level of care, respect, and clinical excellence. Contact our team today to schedule an appointment with a Dallas, TX gastrointestinal specialist and learn if you might be a good candidate for sacral neuromodulation.