Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Women’s silent health problem: Study finds fecal incontinence is prevalent in US women

18.01.2006


Numbers high among older women, women who have had several babies and women who have major depression



It’s a topic that is discussed so infrequently – for reasons that are easy to understand – that it may seem it isn’t much of a problem. But new research shows that fecal incontinence is prevalent among U.S. women, especially those in older age groups, those who have had numerous babies, women whose deliveries were assisted by forceps or vacuum devices, and those who have had a hysterectomy.

Many women in the study who had fecal incontinence also had another medical condition, such as major depression or diabetes, and often experienced urinary incontinence in addition to FI. The findings are reported in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.


"Increased attention should be paid to this debilitating condition, especially considering the aging of our population and the available treatments for FI," says senior author Dee E. Fenner, M.D., associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology, and director of gynecology, at the University of Michigan Medical School. "It is very important to the health of women that clinicians are aware of the prevalence of FI and can treat their patients accordingly."

The study, led by the University of Washington, was a postal survey of 6,000 women ages 30-90 who were enrolled in a large HMO in Washington state (the condition also affects men, but only women were involved in the study). Of the 64 percent who responded, the prevalence of FI was found to be 7.2 percent, with the occurrence increasing notably with age. FI was defined as loss of liquid or solid stool at least monthly.

The study was the first, to the authors’ knowledge, to examine major depression as a potential risk factor for FI. They say FI could be a contributing factor to major depression in some cases, and major depression could be a contributing factor to FI in other cases.

FI can occur after damage to the anal sphincter muscles or scarring to the rectum, causing it to be unable to hold stool. Ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease and some other conditions can cause this scarring to occur. Another contributing factor can be the stretching of the nerves that supply the sphincters, called the pudendal nerves, which can occur with childbirth, old age, trauma, or with medical diseases that affect the nerves, such as diabetes. Without intact nerves to stimulate the sphincters, the sphincters may undergo atrophy.

Because of the nature of the condition, people who have FI often do not discuss it with their doctors, experts say. That is why the study’s authors encourage clinicians to take a more active role in finding out if their patients are experiencing FI, especially among patients age 50 or older. They note that while FI is present in many elderly women, it should not be considered merely a normal part of aging. They also encourage women to discuss the issue with their doctors.

It also is important for women and their doctors to be aware of the conditions that often go along with FI. Researchers found that women in the study with FI were more likely to have:

  • A higher number of deliveries
  • Urinary incontinence
  • A previous hysterectomy
  • Another medical condition as well, such as major depression or diabetes
  • A history of operative vaginal delivery, such as those using forceps or a vacuum-assisted device.

The impact of incontinence on the quality of life of the respondents was "significant," says Fenner, who is one of the founders of the Michigan Bowel Control Program at the University of Michigan Health System. "We found that half of the subjects with FI reported that their bowel symptoms had a large impact on their quality of life," she notes.

Treatments that can help people manage FI can range from changes in diet and exercise, to medications that improve the formation of stools, to surgery that repairs the sphincter muscles. In some cases, an artificial bowel sphincter can be implanted under the skin to mimic the natural function of the anal sphincter. Biofeedback – which involves daily exercises to improve the strength of muscles used to hold back a bowel movement – also is an option for some patients.

The lead author of the study was Jennifer L. Melville, M.D., M.P.H., of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences at the University of Washington. In addition to Melville and Fenner, other authors were Ming-Yu Fan, Ph.D., of the Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences at the University of Washington and Katherine Newton, Ph.D., of the Center for Health Studies at the Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound of Seattle.

Katie Gazella | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.umich.edu
http://www.med.umich.edu/1libr/aha/umfecal.htm
http://www.med.umich.edu/bowelcontrol/about/fecal_incont.htm

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Nanoparticles as a Solution against Antibiotic Resistance?
15.12.2017 | Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena

nachricht Plasmonic biosensors enable development of new easy-to-use health tests
14.12.2017 | Aalto University

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: First-of-its-kind chemical oscillator offers new level of molecular control

DNA molecules that follow specific instructions could offer more precise molecular control of synthetic chemical systems, a discovery that opens the door for engineers to create molecular machines with new and complex behaviors.

Researchers have created chemical amplifiers and a chemical oscillator using a systematic method that has the potential to embed sophisticated circuit...

Im Focus: Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation

MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.

Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...

Im Focus: Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

Detailed calculations show water cloaks are feasible with today's technology

Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Engineers program tiny robots to move, think like insects

15.12.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

One in 5 materials chemistry papers may be wrong, study suggests

15.12.2017 | Materials Sciences

New antbird species discovered in Peru by LSU ornithologists

15.12.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>