Fecal incontinence, also called bowel incontinence or anal incontinence, is the inability to control your bowel movements. If you have bowel leakage, treatment at Rush can help you regain control so you can feel normal again.
Signs You Should Get Help for Fecal Incontinence
Don't put off talking with a doctor if you feel embarrassed — treatment can significantly improve your fecal incontinence. Get help if you have the following symptoms:
- Leakage of solid or liquid stool, and sometimes gas
- Chronic diarrhea
- Constant or sudden urges to defecate
- Complications like irritated skin around your anus
Whether these symptoms happen to you occasionally or most of the time, you can find relief when you work with our care team.
Fecal Incontinence Treatment at Rush
Because fecal incontinence has many causes, our doctors will work with you to find the root of your symptoms, including performing motility testing (anorectal manometry). This will help determine your treatment options. Your care plan may include the following:
- Lifestyle changes like eating more fiber
- Medications to slow the passage of stool in your bowels
- Physical therapy to retrain your bowel muscles
- Sacral neuromodulation, which uses an implantable device to gently "wake up" the nerves that communicate with the anal sphincters, rectum and pelvic floor
- Surgery to repair or replace the anal sphincter
We also understand that having fecal incontinence can severely affect your emotional health. You may even feel isolated or embarrassed by your symptoms. When you come to Rush, we are sensitive to your concerns and do our best to find a solution that alleviates your stress.
Rush Excellence in Fecal Incontinence Care
- Fast access, flexible appointments: We understand that you want to get your fecal incontinence under control as quickly as possible. We offer appointments with several types of specialists within one week or less so you can start getting the answers you need.
- Nationally recognized expertise: When you come to Rush, you receive care from some of the country's leading experts in treating digestive health with a patient-centered approach. This is one reason why U.S. News & World Report ranked Rush University Medical Center among the best in the nation for gastroenterology and GI surgery.
- A wide range of diagnostic options: We offer the latest tests to understand the source of your fecal incontinence. This includes anal electromyography (EMG) to check for nerve damage (often from childbirth) and other tests.
- Experience in pelvic floor problems: If you're a woman with fecal incontinence, your symptoms could be caused by problems with your pelvic floor. Abdominal and pelvic health experts, including urogynecologists and colon and rectal surgeons, at Rush understand how to treat your underlying condition so you can be free of your symptoms.
- Minimally invasive options: Our colon and rectal surgeons are skilled in laparoscopic and robotic techniques to correct or replace the anal sphincter. This can help you regain control of your bowels and return to a more normal routine.
- Second opinion service: Our experienced doctors can help you find the answers you need if you're considering surgery or another treatment for fecal incontinence. We can help you understand your options so you can make the best decision to improve your health for the long term.