Urinary and fecal incontinence are pelvic floor disorders. They result in involuntary loss of control of a bodily function whether it's the normal voiding reflex for urine or the control of a normal bowel movement. These are disabling conditions that are very common especially in older people. People don't talk to their doctor about it because they are embarrassed. There are two types of urinary incontinence:
- Stress incontinence - caused by activities (coughing, sneezing, laughing, running, or lifting) that apply pressure to a full bladder.
- Urge incontinence - marked by a need to urinate frequently. There are many causes of urge incontinence, including medical conditions (benign prostatic hyperplasia, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, stroke, and spinal cord injuries), surgeries (hysterectomy, radical prostatectomy), and infections.
Causes of Urinary and Fecal Incontinence
There are many causes for urinary and fecal incontinence. Childbirth, pelvic floor surgeries, and menopause are a few of things that lead to urinary incontinence. Nerve damage and vaginal childbirth can lead to fecal incontinence.
How We Diagnose Urinary and Fecal Incontinence
Urinary and fecal incontinence can be diagnosed in an office setting. An evaluation will include a physical exam that covers a neurologic and pelvic exam. Testing will include a group of tests that come under the heading of urodynamic evaluation. This will help us pinpoint the cause of urinary incontinence. For fecal incontinence we have a group of tests that try and identify whether the problem is in the muscle of the rectum and anus or whether it's a neurologic problem arising from any other neurological spinal disease that is resulting in this problem. Once we have completed the tests, we can offer you a variety of treatment options.
Treatment for Urinary and Fecal Incontinence
There are very effective treatments available for urinary and fecal incontinence that include medical and surgical options. The most important thing to remember is incontinence is not a normal part of aging. Talk to your doctor – help is available for this very common condition.