Are Bladder and Bowel Incontinence Related?


Bladder and bowel incontinence are widespread but often infrequently discussed medical concerns. These conditions commonly carry a broad range of physical, psychological, emotional, and social impacts. Incontinence is problematic for numerous people across the United States and may inhibit an individual's life from minor to significant ways. Patients might experience bladder or fecal incontinence, or even both, which can differ in the scale of dysfunction and severity. A number of adults consider talking about urinary or fecal incontinence to be highly uncomfortable, even when it is with a physician. This embarrassment factor can keep people from getting the help and care they need for incontinence conditions.

Oftentimes, even occasional incidences of incontinence could impede a person’s inclination to engage in outside activities. The thought of being away from home for too long or having to visit the restroom at any given moment prevents many adults from living life to the fullest. If you or someone you love has minor to severe urinary or fecal incontinence (or both), please understand that you certainly are not alone. Effective treatments are in use to help you regain bladder and bowel control and elevate your comfort and confidence.

Unexpected bowel or urinary leakage is a considerable worry for a number of individuals throughout the metroplex. The board-certified gastroenterologists at Texas Digestive Disease Consultants provide quality services for incontinence problems, which includes an innovative solution known as sacral neuromodulation (SNM). Please reach out to our DFW gastrointestinal specialists as soon as possible to learn more about bladder and bowel incontinence and to determine the ideal treatment option for you.

What is bladder incontinence?

Defined as the loss of control over bladder function, urinary incontinence causes people to unexpectedly leak urine. The term "incontinence" encompasses a variety of problems, including urinary retention, stress incontinence, urgency incontinence or overactive bladder (OAB), or overflow incontinence. The probability of developing this health concern is elevated for individuals who are older than age 50; however, adults of every age can be susceptible. Furthermore, the National Association for Continence reports that more than 25 million individuals across the country have urinary incontinence each day. Common factors that can cause bladder incontinence are listed below:

  • Weakened pelvic floor muscles
  • Pregnancy
  • Childbirth trauma
  • Menopause
  • Defects in normal anatomy
  • Ongoing constipation
  • Damage to the nerves
  • Certain medications
  • Infection in the pelvic organs
  • Caffeine
  • Surgery
  • Obesity

What leads to bowel control problems?

Although many DFW patients deem it to be uncomfortable to seek care for bladder incontinence, experiencing bowel incontinence can be even harder to admit. Bowel dysfunction, or the inability to control bowel movements, can range from minor bowel leakage to a total loss of bowel control. Per the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons, research reveals that 1.8 – 18% of the U.S. population faces fecal incontinence. Common causes of fecal incontinence are as follows:

  • Muscle weakness due to age
  • Rectal prolapse
  • Trauma from childbirth
  • Defects in normal anatomy
  • Damage to the nerves
  • Excessive use of laxative medications
  • History of surgery
  • Conditions involving the central nervous system (CNS)
  • Irritable bowel diseases
  • Ongoing constipation or diarrhea

Is there a link between urinary incontinence and fecal incontinence?

Fecal and bladder incontinence impact double as many women as men. Although they can develop concurrently or on an individual basis, a physiological link exists between these separate conditions. The brain and muscles that direct the bladder and bowels work together to regulate urinary and fecal function. In the event neural communications connecting the brain and these muscles become blocked, varied levels of incontinence may occur. Overall, both bladder and bowel incontinence might develop when the brain is unable to transmit the proper messages to the muscles that regulate bladder and bowel functions.

In what way is incontinence treated?

Treatment for cases of bladder and bowel incontinence often initiates with conservative options, such as pelvic floor exercises, modifying diet and fluid consumption, and medications. This approach might incorporate adding additional fiber to the diet, or cutting back on caffeine intake or other products that produce diuretic results. If these therapies are ineffective, or patients are not candidates for conservative solutions or more invasive treatment methods, the GI doctors at Texas Digestive Disease Consultants could advise sacral neuromodulation therapy. While a variety of therapeutic treatments are in place for controlling urinary leakage, not many options exist for addressing fecal incontinence, outside of sacral neuromodulation.

What should you know about sacral neuromodulation therapy?

Sacral neuromodulation is a minimally invasive way to address incontinence that involves the implantation of a mini rechargeable device, similar to the concept of a pacemaker. The device is placed in the area of the sacral nerve in the tailbone area, near the top part of the buttocks, or gluteus muscles. Approved for use in people age 18 or older, sacral neuromodulation is largely suggested by the American Society of Colorectal Surgeons and the American Society of Gastroenterology (after a conservative approach). It offers a long-range therapeutic solution that has enabled successful treatment results for a high percentage of patients. As an added benefit, patients are able to complete a trial phase ahead of time to find out how effective it might be for them.

How does sacral neuromodulation therapy work?

Adults who are candidates for sacral neuromodulation treatment typically go through a 1 to 2-week trial interval to start the treatment process. The neurostimulator device is then placed via a minimally invasive surgical technique carried out by a gastroenterologist at Texas Digestive Disease Consultants. SNM is a restorative treatment that regulates the function of the pelvic floor by improving communication between the brain and the muscles managing bladder and bowel processes. The sacral neurostimulator is recharged by the patient at 2 to 4-week intervals through an external source and takes a minimal amount of time to recharge. The majority of people who choose sacral neuromodulation report the recharging process to be relatively efficient and simple.

Is SNM therapy an effective way to manage bladder and fecal incontinence?

Texas Digestive Disease Consultants is proud to provide sacral neuromodulation as a safe, effective, and long-lasting approach to managing urinary or fecal incontinence in DFW adults. It is clinically proven to improve symptoms of urinary incontinence, urinary retention, OAB, and fecal incontinence. Studies reveal that SNM therapy carries a high rate of success and patient satisfaction rating for both urinary and bowel incontinence problems, and also has a very high safety profile. SNM has demonstrated success in patients for whom a conservative approach to therapy was not effective and can provide notable quality of life improvements. It is also tied to a significantly lower frequency of incontinence episodes.

Find advanced treatment for incontinence in DFW

The use of sacral neuromodulation has been momentous in offering a minimally invasive method to address bladder and fecal incontinence, positively impacting the confidence and comfort of patients affected by these issues. At Texas Digestive Disease Consultants, we understand the issues and embarrassment adults have surrounding bladder and bowel leakage. Our DFW gastroenterologists provide expert solutions and confidential appointments to treat these types of health problems with the highest level of respect, care, and clinical distinction. To learn if you are a good candidate for sacral neuromodulation, contact our offices in DFW today to schedule a visit with a board-certified gastroenterologist.