Is There a Correlation Between Urinary and Fecal Incontinence?

Urinary and bowel incontinence are common but less frequently discussed problems. These concerns often carry social, psychological, physical, and emotional outcomes. Incontinence impacts a large number of individuals across the United States and may interfere with a patient's quality of life in a variety of forms. Patients may have urinary or fecal incontinence, and even both, which might vary in the magnitude of severity and dysfunction. A number of individuals view talking about bladder or fecal incontinence as humiliating, even when it is with a physician. This causes a barrier to ideal care for numerous patients.

In many cases, even sporadic incidences of incontinence may inhibit a patient's readiness to engage in outside activities. The idea of being outside of their home for a long time or needing to visit the bathroom at any given moment prevents many individuals from living their lives to the fullest. If you or someone you love experiences minor to severe bladder or fecal incontinence (or both), you are not alone, as this condition affects more people than you might think. There are treatments at hand to help you recover control of your bladder and bowels and enhance your comfort and confidence.

Unintentional fecal or bladder leakage is a serious problem for many patients throughout San Antonio, TX. The seasoned gastrointestinal (GI) specialists at San Antonio Gastroenterology Associates offer individualized services for incontinence concerns, including a cutting-edge solution referred to as sacral neuromodulation (SNM). We welcome you to get in touch with our gastrointestinal team today to learn more about bladder and bowel incontinence and to determine your options for care.

What is urinary leakage?

Defined as the loss of bladder or urinary control, urinary incontinence leads to the accidental passage of urine. The term "incontinence" involves an array of conditions, like overactive bladder (OAB) or urgency incontinence, overflow incontinence, stress incontinence, and urinary retention. The risk of developing this problem is higher for patients older than 50, although adults in all age groups may be impacted. In fact, the National Association for Continence has reported that over 25 million individuals across the nation deal with urinary incontinence each day. Common causes of urinary incontinence are:

  • Caffeine consumption
  • Being pregnant
  • Childbirth trauma
  • Being overweight
  • Damage to the pelvic muscles
  • Defects in normal anatomy
  • Previous surgery
  • Long-term constipation
  • Menopause
  • Damage to the nerves
  • Certain medications
  • Infection in the pelvic organs

What is bowel incontinence?

Although a lot of San Antonio, TX patients consider it uncomfortable to seek treatment for urinary leakage, experiencing bowel leakage can be even more difficult to discuss. Bowel dysfunction, or the inability to control bowel movements, can include anything from minor bowel leakage to a total loss of bowel control. As reported by the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons, between 1.8 – 18% of individuals in the United States deal with fecal incontinence. Common reasons for bowel incontinence are as follows:

  • Nerve damage
  • Ongoing constipation or diarrhea
  • Prolapse of the rectum
  • Irritable bowel diseases
  • Excessive use of laxative medications
  • Age-related muscle weakness
  • Anatomical defects
  • History of surgery
  • Central nervous system (CNS) conditions
  • Birth trauma

Are urinary and fecal incontinence connected?

Bowel and bladder incontinence affects two times the number of women than men. While they might persist individually or at the same time, there is a physiological connection between these two conditions. The brain and muscles responsible for bladder and bowel control work in tandem to manage bladder and bowel activities. In the event neural pathways involving the brain and these muscles are damaged, varying levels of incontinence might arise. Generally, both bladder and fecal incontinence could result when the brain is unable to transmit the proper signals to the muscles that facilitate bladder and bowel activities.

What are some effective treatment options for incontinence?

Treatment for improving urinary and bowel incontinence usually starts with a conservative approach, like pelvic floor exercises, medications, or modifying diet and fluid intake. These therapies may include increasing fiber in the diet, or reducing the amount of caffeine consumed and additional products that have diuretic properties. When such therapies are ineffective or individuals are not ideal candidates for conservative solutions or other treatment options, the gastroenterologists at San Antonio Gastroenterology Associates may recommend sacral neuromodulation. Though a variety of therapeutic solutions exist for controlling bladder incontinence, there are not a whole lot of methods for addressing cases of bowel leakage, aside from sacral neuromodulation.

What should you know about sacral neuromodulation treatment?

Sacral neuromodulation therapy is a minimally invasive method of treating cases of incontinence that is accomplished through the strategic placement of a tiny electrical stimulator, much like a pacemaker. The neurostimulator is inserted beside the sacral nerve in the tailbone area, near the top portion of the buttocks. Authorized for use in individuals 18 or older, sacral neuromodulation is largely advised by the American Society of Gastroenterology and the American Society of Colorectal Surgeons (second to conservative therapies). This approach provides a long-range solution that has produced positive treatment results for a high percentage of adults. As an added benefit, patients are able to try it out ahead of time to learn whether it works for them.

How does sacral neuromodulation therapy work?

Candidates for SNM therapy typically complete a 7 to 14-day trial phase to start the treatment process. The sacral neuromodulation device is then positioned via a minimally invasive, minor surgical technique conducted by a gastrointestinal doctor at San Antonio Gastroenterology Associates. SNM is a therapy that regulates pelvic floor function by enhancing electrical signals between the brain and muscles, controlling urinary and fecal functions. The device is charged by the individuals on a 2 to 4-week basis via an external source and needs only a minimal amount of time to recharge. A large percentage of people who choose sacral neuromodulation consider the process of recharging the device relatively efficient and simple.

Is SNM an effective way to address urinary and fecal incontinence?

San Antonio Gastroenterology Associates is proud to provide SNM therapy as a safe, effective, and long-lasting solution for addressing urinary or bowel incontinence in San Antonio, TX adults. Sacral neuromodulation is clinically proven to treat urinary incontinence, OAB, urinary retention, and bowel incontinence. Studies show that SNM has a high rate of success and patient satisfaction rating for both urinary and bowel incontinence conditions, and also has a very high safety profile. SNM has demonstrated success in those for whom a conservative therapeutic approach was ineffective and may enable substantial quality of life enhancements. The treatment is also associated with lower rates of incontinence events.

Receive expert incontinence treatment in San Antonio, TX

The utilization of SNM has been paramount in offering a less invasive method of treating urinary and bowel incontinence, consequentially enhancing the confidence and comfort of adults affected by these issues. At San Antonio Gastroenterology Associates, we realize the embarrassment and issues individuals experience involving urinary and fecal incontinence. Our practiced gastrointestinal specialists provide advanced approaches and confidential appointments to manage these medical concerns with a superior level of care, respect, and clinical distinction. To find out if sacral neuromodulation may be right for you, please reach out to our practice in San Antonio, TX today to book a visit with a gastrointestinal specialist.