Older women sitting and using exercise bands with their arms

Bowel issues, also called Accidental Bowel Leakage (ABL) or fecal incontinence, is the impaired ability to control gas or stool that can range in severity from mild difficulty with gas control to severe loss of control over liquid or formed stools, sometimes on a daily basis. It is a common condition and often coexists with urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse, but unfortunately due to embarrassment many patients do not seek treatment.

The most common forms of ABL are:

  • Fecal incontinence - involuntary loss of solid or liquid stool
  • Flatal incontinence - involuntary loss of gas or "flatus"
  • Constipation – infrequent bowel movements or straining to pass stool

Bowel control issues can affect women of all ages, although older women tend to experience them more than younger women. Women who experienced pelvic floor injury during childbirth are at a higher risk of developing ABL, either shortly after childbirth or later in life. Other health issues can also increase the chances of developing ABL including frequent diarrhea, hemorrhoids and diabetes.

Treatment Options

Developing ABL doesn't mean you have to restrict your movements or limit your social life. There are medical and surgical treatment options available and no woman should be too embarrassed to talk to their doctor about them. It's about your quality of life.

Many patients don't realize that medications and dietary changes can be helpful in addressing fecal incontinence and other bowel leakage issues. Pelvic floor physical therapy with biofeedback is an integral part of most treatment plans. For people whose symptoms do not improve with these first line therapies, we offer a number of innovative approaches including nurse stimulation therapy, bulking injections, or perhaps surgery to disrupt to treat disruptive muscles. Our range of treatment options include:

  • Lifestyle and behavior modification
  • Diet and fitness
  • Pelvic floor muscle exercises (Kegels)
  • Biofeedback and electrical stimulation
  • Physical therapy with biofeedback
  • Devices
  • Medicines
  • Procedures & Surgery
  • Nerve stimulation
  • Bulking agents
  • Surgery including Anal sphincter repair

And of course, it is all about regaining your quality of life. ABL can cause people to hesitate to engage in socializing and doing things they enjoy for fear of having an 'accident'. We can help you get beck to doing the things you love.

Call 240-677-3000 to schedule an appointment.