Treatment Options for Fecal Incontinence

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There are several treatment options for fecal incontinence, including Medtronic’s innovative InterStim® neurostimulator. It’s been used to treat more than 100,000 people worldwide since 1994. If your life has been disrupted by bowel problems and other treatments have not worked well for you, talk to your doctor about how you can gain back control.

Behavioural Techniques

Some people can reduce the symptoms of fecal incontinence by simple lifestyle changes, such as:

  • Diet modification, which is useful for watery stools
  • Avoiding tea and coffee because they tend to relax the sphincter muscles that keep the stool inside
  • Bowel training and biofeedback, which can help strengthen your sphincter muscle or can train the bowels to empty at a specific time of day.


Medications may be prescribed by your doctor to help control your fecal incontinence. For example, if you suffer from watery stools, medications may help to harden them and to slow down your bowel function.

Sacral Neuromodulation

Doctors may recommend InterStim Therapy (also called sacral nerve stimulation) for those people who have not found the standard treatments to be helpful. This treatment may work even when your anal sphincters are damaged. This reversible treatment uses a small neurostimulator that is implanted in your body. The neurostimulator sends mild electrical pulses to the sacral nerves that control your bowel and rectum. If you also have bladder control problems, the neurostimulator can be used to treat those too.

Surgical Repair

In some cases, more complex and permanent surgical procedures can be used to repair your sphincters. This may be done by using muscle from your thigh or the implantation of an artificial sphincter. A colostomy may also be used when other methods do not work. With a colostomy, your bowel is disconnected from your anus and re-routed to an external pouch to collect your stools.

Information on this site should not be used as a substitute for talking with your doctor. Always talk with your doctor about diagnosis and treatment information.

Last updated: 7 Mar 2013

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