What Is the Connection Between Bladder and Bowel Incontinence?

Summary: Urinary and bowel incontinence might impact your comfort and confidence, but an advanced therapeutic solution can help improve your quality of living.

Incontinence is a prevalent yet often infrequently mentioned medical condition that commonly leads to emotional, physical, psychological, and social impacts. It is a health issue for a multitude of Americans and can interfere with an individual's quality of living from minor to considerable ways. Individuals may have urinary or fecal incontinence, or even both, which may range in the magnitude of dysfunction and severity. A lot of adults find speaking about urinary or fecal incontinence humiliating, even with a medical professional, keeping many from getting the care they need.

Often, even sporadic occasions of incontinence may hamper an individual's inclination to take part in activities outside of the home. The thought of being outside of their home for a long time or needing to use the restroom at any given moment stands in the way of high-quality living for a large number of patients. Should you or a loved one have any amount of bladder or bowel incontinence (or both), please realize that help is close by and you are not alone. Effective treatments are available to help you take back urinary and bowel control and improve your confidence and comfort.

Accidental fecal or urinary leakage is a significant worry for adults all throughout the region. The seasoned gastrointestinal (GI) doctors at Gastroenterology Consultants of San Antonio are pleased to offer expert services for incontinence issues, including an advanced service called sacral neuromodulation (SNM). We invite you to contact our San Antonio, TX gastroenterologists today to discover more about urinary and fecal incontinence and determine the ideal treatment option for you.

What causes bladder leakage?

Characterized as the loss of control over bladder function, urinary incontinence leads individuals to unexpectedly leak urine. It includes a wide range of concerns, like overactive bladder (OAB) or urgency incontinence, overflow incontinence, stress incontinence, and urinary retention. While the chance of developing this health concern is greater for patients who are over 50, adults of all ages may be impacted. As a matter of fact, the National Association for Continence states that more than 25 million people in the United States have urinary incontinence every day. Common factors that can cause urinary incontinence include the following:

  • Pelvic floor dysfunction
  • Anatomical defects
  • Being pregnant
  • Birth trauma
  • Surgery
  • Obesity
  • Menopause
  • Nerve damage
  • Certain medications
  • Caffeine consumption
  • Infection in the pelvic organs
  • Long-term constipation

What leads to bowel control problems?

While a lot of individuals in San Antonio, TX feel embarrassed to seek care for urinary incontinence, problems with bowel incontinence are often even harder to disclose. The inability to control bowel movements, or bowel dysfunction, can encompass conditions ranging from minimal bowel leakage to a complete inability to control the bowels. Per the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons, studies show that around 1.8 – 18% of the U.S. population deals with fecal incontinence. Common causes of bowel incontinence are listed below:

  • Prolapse of the rectum
  • Birth trauma
  • History of surgery
  • Ongoing constipation or diarrhea
  • Muscle weakness due to age
  • Nerve damage
  • Irritable bowel diseases
  • Defects in normal anatomy
  • Conditions involving the central nervous system (CNS)
  • Excessive laxative use

Are bladder incontinence and fecal incontinence related conditions?

Bladder and fecal incontinence are suffered by double the number of women compared to men. While they can arise individually or in tandem, a physiological connection exists between these two conditions. The brain and muscles that direct the bladder and bowels work together to ensure proper bladder and fecal function. If neural communications between the brain and these muscles are interrupted, various degrees of incontinence might occur. Generally, both urinary and bowel incontinence may result when a person's brain is unable to transmit the proper signals to the muscles that control bladder and bowel functions.

Are there effective treatment options for incontinence?

Treating cases of bowel and urinary incontinence often begins with conservative therapies, like altering diet and fluid consumption, pelvic floor exercise, and medications. These therapies might incorporate adding fiber to daily nutritional intake, or cutting back on caffeine consumption or other products that produce diuretic results. If such options do not help, or patients are not ideal candidates for conservative solutions or other treatment options, the GI doctors at Gastroenterology Consultants of San Antonio might advise sacral neuromodulation treatment. Although a variety of therapeutic measures are in place for treating bladder leakage, not many options exist for addressing cases of bowel incontinence, beyond sacral neuromodulation.

What should you know about sacral neuromodulation?

Sacral neuromodulation treatment is a minimally invasive way to address incontinence. It is accomplished through the placement of a mini rechargeable stimulator, akin to a pacemaker. The device is placed near the sacral nerve in the tailbone area, close to the top region of the buttocks, or gluteus muscles. Approved for use in people age 18 or older, SNM therapy is suggested by the American Society of Gastroenterology and the American Society of Colorectal Surgeons (after conservative treatment options). It provides a long-term therapeutic approach that has produced successful treatment results for a large number of patients. Furthermore, patients are able to complete a trial phase beforehand to learn whether it works for them.

How does SNM therapy work?

Adults who are candidates for SNM therapy often receive a 7 to 14-day trial period to begin the treatment process. The sacral neuromodulation device is then positioned through a minimally invasive surgical procedure completed by a GI specialist at Gastroenterology Consultants of San Antonio. SNM is a restorative treatment that regulates pelvic floor function by improving signals between the brain and the muscles that control bladder and bowel functions. The sacral neurostimulator is charged by the individual on a 2 to 4-week basis by way of an external source and requires only a short recharging session. Many sacral neuromodulation patients consider the process of recharging the neurostimulator generally efficient and simple overall.

Is SNM an effective option for treating urinary and bowel incontinence?

Gastroenterology Consultants of San Antonio is proud to offer SNM as a safe, effective, and long-lasting approach to addressing bladder or bowel incontinence in San Antonio, TX adults. SNM is clinically proven to improve symptoms of overactive bladder, urinary incontinence, urinary retention, and bowel incontinence. Research conducted indicates that sacral neuromodulation therapy carries a high rate of success and patient satisfaction ratings for both urinary and fecal incontinence concerns, and also exhibits a very high safety profile. This approach has shown success in people for whom a conservative approach to therapy was ineffective and can allow for substantial enhancements in their quality of living. SNM treatment is also linked to much lower rates of incontinence episodes.

Get advanced treatment for incontinence in San Antonio, TX

The introduction of SNM therapy has been paramount in providing a less invasive method to control urinary and fecal incontinence, thus enhancing the lives of those dealing with these issues. At Gastroenterology Consultants of San Antonio, we know the humiliation and concerns patients experience when living with bladder and bowel incontinence. Our San Antonio, TX gastrointestinal specialists provide advanced options and confidential consultations to treat these medical issues with the utmost respect, care, and clinical excellence. For further details on incontinence and sacral neuromodulation therapy, contact our practice in San Antonio, TX and schedule an appointment with our skilled GI team.