Non-Surgical Treatments for Faecal Incontinence: What to Expect

faecal incontinence

For those living with faecal incontinence, the condition can be both physically and emotionally challenging. Traditionally, surgical interventions were the mainstay of treatment for this condition but non-surgical options are becoming increasingly popular and effective. This post explores the range of non-surgical treatments available for faecal incontinence, giving you an insight into what to expect and how these treatments can offer hope and relief.

What is Faecal Incontinence and Who Does it Affect?

Faecal incontinence is the inability to control bowel movements, leading to accidental soiling or bowel leakage. It’s a condition that affects millions worldwide, with causes ranging from muscle damage during childbirth, nerve damage due to diabetes, rectal prolapse, and other issues that can weaken or damage the muscles controlling the release of stool.

The Emotional and Physical Impact of Faecal Incontinence

Faecal incontinence can have a profound impact on an individual’s quality of life. The condition can cause embarrassment, social withdrawal, and a loss of self-esteem. Physically, the risk of skin irritation and infections is increased, and dealing with chronic incontinence can be emotionally exhausting.

Non-Surgical Treatment Options

Thankfully, recent advances in medical technology and understanding have led to a variety of non-surgical treatments being available. These range from at-home therapies to office-based treatments, offering hope to those who have been coping with the condition.

At-Home Strategies

At-home strategies are often the first line of treatment for faecal incontinence and can include dietary adjustments, pelvic floor exercises, and the use of toileting schedules to manage symptoms.

Diet and Bowel Management

A diet high in fibre can help solidify stool and regulate bowel movements. Adjusting your intake of certain foods, like dairy, can also play a role in managing incontinence. Keeping a food diary and monitoring its effects on bowel movements can be a helpful strategy.

Pelvic Floor Exercises

Pelvic floor muscles are crucial for controlling bowel movements. Regular exercises, known as Kegels, can strengthen these muscles and improve their function. Working with a specialist physiotherapist can ensure that these exercises are being performed correctly and are tailored to the individual’s needs.

Establishing a Toileting Routine

Creating a regular toileting schedule can help with predictability. Those with faecal incontinence can plan bathroom visits at appropriate times to lower the risk of accidents, which can be empowering and reduce anxiety around the condition.

Non-Surgical Medical Therapies

There are several non-invasive medical therapies that can be administered by doctors to manage faecal incontinence effectively.


Prescribed medications can be effective in treating the symptoms of faecal incontinence. These can include anti-diarrheal drugs to help firm up stool and slow bowel movements and sometimes laxatives to prevent constipation, which can worsen incontinence.

Biofeedback and Electrical Stimulation

Biofeedback involves using sensors to help individuals become aware of body functions they don’t normally pay attention to, such as muscle contractions. This technique can help retrain the body to control bowel movements. Electrical stimulation, also known as neuromodulation, can directly stimulate the muscles or nerves involved in bowel control, often helping to improve the functionality of the pelvic floor.

New on the Horizon – Emsella Treatment

One of the most promising recent developments in non-surgical faecal incontinence treatments is the Emsella chair. This innovative approach uses high-intensity focused electromagnetic (HIFEM) technology to induce deep pelvic floor muscle contractions. These contractions are similar to those produced during Kegel exercises but at a much higher intensity. Patients remain completely clothed during the treatment, which consists of several sessions over a two-week period, each lasting approximately 30 minutes.

The potential benefits of Emsella include improved coordination and strength of pelvic floor muscles, leading to a reduction in symptoms for many patients. Emsella is a game-changer for many who have struggled with traditional exercise regimes, as the machine can achieve thousands of muscle contractions in just one session, which would be close to impossible to replicate with just traditional exercises.

Managing Expectations and Seeking Professional Advice

It’s crucial for individuals seeking treatment for faecal incontinence to manage their expectations. While these non-surgical treatments can offer significant improvements, they may not be a complete cure for everyone. It’s essential to work closely with a healthcare provider, ideally a gastroenterologist, who will assess each case thoroughly to recommend the most appropriate course of treatment.

A multi-disciplinary approach may often be beneficial, including a range of healthcare professionals such as dietitians, physiotherapists, and clinical nurse specialists. By combining different strategies from these professionals, patients can often find a comprehensive plan that effectively manages their condition.

The Future of Non-Surgical Treatment for Faecal Incontinence

Non-surgical treatments for faecal incontinence have come a long way, and with ongoing research and technological developments, the future looks promising. The focus on minimizing invasiveness, maximizing effectiveness, and increasing patient wellbeing will likely lead to further innovative treatments and strategies in the coming years.

For individuals living with faecal incontinence, the array of non-surgical treatments presents a range of options that can be tailored to their unique circumstances. By staying informed and working closely with healthcare providers, many individuals can find relief and a path back to a better quality of life.

In conclusion, while faecal incontinence can indeed be a challenging condition, the range of non-surgical treatments available today, and those on the horizon, offer real hope and opportunity for those suffering from this condition. With the right care and diligence, patients can take significant steps towards managing and improving their symptoms, leading to a better, more active, and confident life.

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