What is Bowel Training?

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“You have probably never heard of “bowel training”, but it’s one of the treatment options occasionally used in treating fecal incontinence. Bowel training is essentially physical training for the muscles of your pelvic floor. Don’t try this on your own. Talk with your doctor first.

Dr. Liam Haveran


What do you tell your patients about bowel training?

 

 

It may seem simple, but for some people, fecal incontinence can be controlled by what we call bowel training. Like the biceps of your arms and the quadriceps of your legs, your anus, buttocks, and pelvis have muscles too, and they can be exercised to make them stronger and more responsive.

Bowel training involves trying to have bowel movements at specific times of the day, such as after every meal. After a while, your body becomes used to this regular pattern, and that may help to reduce constipation which in turn may reduce incidents of fecal incontinence. This process takes weeks, maybe several months, so be patient.

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Exercises might include contracting the muscles of the anus, buttocks, and pelvis and then holding that for 5 or more seconds and then relaxing. Do that 30 times, 3 times a day for a few weeks and your pelvic floor muscles will be stronger, and that may improve your incontinence.

Biofeedback is sometimes used to help patients make sure that they’re exercising the right muscles. This involves putting a pressure probe in the anus or a sensing electrode on the skin. The probe or electrode cues a visual or sound display to tell the patient when the proper anal muscles are being used.

Do not try to set up a treatment plan like bowel training without first consulting with your doctor.