Fecal incontinence exercises; Neurogenic bowel - bowel retraining; Constipation - bowel retraining; Obstipation - bowel retraining; Bowel incontinence - bowel retraining
A program of bowel retraining, Kegel exercises, or biofeedback therapy may be used by people to help improve their bowel movements.
Problems that may benefit from bowel retraining include:
These problems may be caused by:
The bowel program includes several steps to help you have regular bowel movements. Most people are able to have regular bowel movements within a few weeks. Some people will need to use laxatives along with bowel retraining. Your health care provider can tell you if you need to take laxatives and which ones are safe for you.
You will need a physical exam before you start a bowel training program. This will allow your provider to find the cause of the fecal incontinence. Disorders that can be corrected such as fecal impaction or infectious diarrhea can be treated at that time. The provider will use your history of bowel habits and lifestyle as a guide for setting new bowel movement patterns.
Making the following changes to your diet will help you have regular, soft, bulky stools:
You can use digital stimulation to trigger a bowel movement:
Keeping to a regular pattern is very important for a bowel retraining program to succeed. Set a regular time for daily bowel movements. Choose a time that is convenient for you. Keep in mind your daily schedule. The best time for a bowel movement is 20 to 40 minutes after a meal, because eating stimulates bowel activity.
Most people are able to establish a regular routine of bowel movements within a few weeks.
Exercises to strengthen the pelvic and rectal muscles may help with bowel control in people who have incompetent anal sphincters. Kegel exercises that increase pelvic and rectal muscle tone can be used for this. These exercises were first developed to control incontinence in women after childbirth.
To be successful with Kegel exercises, use the proper technique and stick to a regular exercise program. Talk with your provider for instructions about how to do these exercises.
Biofeedback gives you sound or visual feedback about a bodily function. In people with fecal incontinence, biofeedback is used to strengthen the anal sphincters.
A rectal plug is used to detect the strength of the rectal muscles. A monitoring electrode is placed on the abdomen. The rectal plug is then attached to a computer monitor. A graph displaying rectal muscle contractions and abdominal contractions will show up on the screen.
To use this method, you will be taught how to squeeze the rectal muscle around the rectal plug. The computer display guides you to make sure you are doing it correctly. Your symptoms should begin to improve after 3 sessions.
Camilleri M. Disorders of gastrointestinal motility. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 127.
Deutsch JK, Hass DJ. Complementary, alternative, and integrative medicine. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 131.
Iturrino JC, Lembo AJ. Constipation. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 19.
Pardi DS, Cotter TG. Other diseases of the colon. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 128.BACK TO TOP
Review Date: 7/30/2022
Reviewed By: Michael M. Phillips, MD, Emeritus Professor of Medicine, The George Washington University School of Medicine, Washington, DC. Also reviewed by David C. Dugdale, MD, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
Health Content Provider
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- 2023 A.D.A.M., a business unit of Ebix, Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.