If I have fecal incontinence, what can be done?
Fortunately, effective treatment for fecal incontinence is available, so it's important that you talk to your doctor about it. Attempts at self-treatment are usually unsuccessful.
The treatment of fecal incontinence varies and depends on the cause of your problem. Your doctor may recommend one or more of the following treatments:
- Dietary changes: Preventing diarrhea and constipation are usually very helpful in controlling incontinence. Changes in your diet such as adjusting the amount of fiber you eat, drinking more fluids, or changing the amount of food you eat can often prevent diarrhea and constipation.
- Medicine: Your doctor may prescribe laxatives, anti-diarrhea drugs or stool softeners to treat incontinence. Talk to your doctor before you take any over-the-counter incontinence medicines.
- Bowel training: Developing a regular bowel movement pattern can be very helpful. This may involve going to bathroom at specific times of the day such as after you eat, or a treatment called anorectal biofeedback. This procedure measures your sphincter contractions while you do special exercises called Kegel exercises. Biofeedback training can strengthen your sphincter muscles and give you more control over bowel movements.
- Surgery: Several different surgical procedures can treat fecal incontinence. Often these surgeries repair or replace sphincter muscles.
Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff