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Bowel Control Questions

Questions & Answers

What are bowel control problems?

Bowel control disorders affect the normal pattern of emptying your stools. For example, you may have bowel movements less frequently, hard bowel movements, abnormal consistency of bowel movements, or diarrhea. Types of bowel control problems include:

  • Accidental Bowel Leakage 
  • Constipation

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Can I get prevent bowel control problems?

Making changes to your diet can help you to control bowel problems. For both fecal incontinence and constipation, increasing fiber is very helpful. It helps draw water into the stool, making the stool a soft, formed mass that are more easily held in the rectum than watery stool. Aim for 25 to 30 grams fiber per day.

If you are experiencing fecal Incontinence, you can also try eating at regular times helps to regulate bowels, avoiding spicy foods or stimulants such as caffeine, which speed up transit time in the bowel and reducing intake of artificial sweeteners (sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol), which can induce diarrhea. 

Constipation can be prevented by avoiding starchy low fiber foods, such as white rice, pasta, or white bread, and increasing your intake of foods that contain indigestible carbohydrates and other compounds that are natural laxatives.

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Who should treat my bowel control problems?

Your primary care physician should be your first stop for bowel control problems. They may refer you to a specialist for a thorough evaluation of your symptoms, such as a urogynecologist, colorectal surgeon, or gastroenterologist. Sometimes you need a team of doctors to help manage several aspects of these conditions. The evaluation should always begin with discussion of the symptoms and physical examination.

Chronic bowel diseases should be treated by a gastroenterologist.

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Will I need surgery to treat these issues?

Most women find relief through diet changes and over the counter medications or pelvic floor PT for bowel control problems. Not every woman needs surgery. Your physician will help you assess whether surgery is necessary.

Bowel control surgery is a big decision. Consult with a colorectal surgeon or urogynecologist. And, consider getting a second opinion before move forward.

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