Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine.
Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Fecal Incontinence

Fecal Incontinence

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Request an Appointment

Let us help you schedule your appointment.

Call 713-441-9229 to speak with our specially trained Coordinator or
request an appointment online.

If you are a physican and would like to refer a patient please call 713-441-9229 or download our Physician Referral Form.

The Methodist Center for Restorative Pelvic Medicine
6550 Fannin Street
Houston, TX 77030
713-441-9229
713-791-5023 fax
Maps & Directions

Fecal or bowel incontinence is the loss of control over bowel (stool) movements. Some people may lose only a small amount of liquid stool, while others may be unable to control an entire movement of solid waste. Women are more likely to have bowel problems than men, and fecal incontinence is a condition that becomes more common with age. Because an uncontrollable bowel is not something people like to talk about, you may not be aware that it is a common issue, and that treatments are available.

When asked specific questions, between 2 percent and 18 percent of the general population report an inability to control their bowels. Of those, about 33 percent restrict activities due to incontinence. Complete fecal incontinence is defined as the inability to control solid stool, whereas partial incontinence involves liquid stool or gas.

Causes
Normal control of bowel movements depends on proper functioning of the colon and rectum, the muscles surrounding the anus (anal sphincter muscles), the brain and the nervous system, and the amount and consistency of stool produced. There are many causes of bowel incontinence, including:

  • Childbirth
  • Prior surgical procedure
  • Injury (trauma)
  • Rectal prolapse (protrusion)
  • Aging
  • Chronic disease, such as diabetes
  • Improper diet

Patients with stool leakage or gas that interferes with their ability to lead a normal life should discuss the problem with their primary care physician or with one of our specialists.

Diagnosis

Initial evaluation for fecal incontinence includes obtaining a general medical history and a history leading up to the incontinence. A simple physical exam is required to determine the status of the anal sphincter muscle.

Even before fecal incontinence becomes a chronic problem, diagnostic procedures allow the physician to look for tears and other abnormalities in the anal sphincter muscles. Common diagnostic procedures include:

  • Anorectal ultrasound
  • Anal manometry
  • Defecography
  • Pudendal nerve testing

Treatment

For most patients, fecal incontinence can be cured or significantly improved with treatment once the underlying cause is identified. There are a variety of treatment options. The treatment plan is based on each patient’s condition and lifestyle. Treatments include:

  • Dietary changes
  • Kegel exercises
  • Over-the-counter or prescription medications
  • Biofeedback techniques
  • Surgery – patients who have experienced anal muscle injuries, such as during childbirth, may elect to undergo surgery

Talk to our specialists

These issues can be embarrassing, but can be resolved. Your first step is to talk with one of our specialists. Call the Center for Restorative Pelvic Medicine at 713-441-9229 to find the right specialist and to schedule an appointment.

How to make an appointment

To schedule an appointment with a physician specializing in fecal incontinence, please call the Center for Restorative Pelvic Medicine at 713-441-9229.