Incontinence

Mark Bazalgette, M.D.

Colorectal Surgeon & Proctologist located in Novato, CA

When you struggle with bowel control, it can affect your quality of life and keep you from doing the things you love. As the only specialty-trained and board-certified colorectal surgeon in Novato, California, Mark Bazalgette, M.D., provides specialized care for bowel issues, including incontinence and rectal bleeding. To learn more about incontinence treatments, call Dr. Bazalgette or schedule an appointment online today.

Incontinence Q & A

What is fecal incontinence?

Fecal or bowel incontinence describes having stools (feces) leave your rectum unexpectedly. The severity of this condition can vary from leaking stools periodically while passing gas to a complete loss of bowel control.

In addition to the loss of bowel control, you might experience additional symptoms including:

  • Gas and bloating
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea

In some cases, you can have fecal incontinence issues because you don’t realize you need to have a bowel movement.

What causes fecal incontinence?

You can develop problems controlling your bowels for several reasons, including:

  • Damage to the anal sphincter muscles that hold your stools in your rectum
  • Nerve damage that affects your body’s ability to sense stools in your rectum
  • Chronic constipation that weakens muscles and causes nerve damage in the area
  • Diarrhea or loose stools, which are difficult to hold in your rectum
  • Hemorrhoids that interfere with your anus’s ability to close properly
  • Changes to your rectum that affect the amount of stool it can hold

You can also develop fecal incontinence because of nerve damage during surgery and prolapse issues where your rectum drops into your anus or through your vagina.

How do you diagnose fecal incontinence?

Dr. Bazalgette diagnoses the cause of fecal incontinence by discussing your symptoms and performing a physical exam. He might also check your anus for signs of nerve damage.

Other tests for fecal incontinence might include:

  • Digital rectal exam: Checks for physical abnormalities in your rectum
  • Balloon expulsion: Looks for a defecation disorder
  • Anorectal manometry: Evaluates your anal sphincter and rectum function
  • Anorectal ultrasonography: Gauges the structure of your sphincter
  • Proctography: Measures how your rectum holds and expresses stool

Dr. Bazalgette might also recommend a colonoscopy to check the health of your entire colon or an MRI to check your sphincter muscles.

How do you treat fecal incontinence?

After diagnosing the cause of your fecal incontinence, Dr. Bazalgette develops a treatment plan to address your specific condition. This might include medications or dietary changes to help address the consistency of your stools. If you have fecal incontinence because of muscle issues, Dr. Bazalgette might suggest an exercise program or specific therapies focused on rebuilding muscle strength.

In some cases, Dr. Bazalgette might recommend surgery to repair the damage that’s triggering your fecal incontinence.

To find solutions for fecal incontinence, call Dr. Bazalgette or schedule an appointment online today.