Defecatory Dysfunction: What’s the Issue?

While many women might not realize that defecatory dysfunction is a treatable condition, this unfortunate urogynecological issue is certainly one that should be addressed at the first signs of symptoms so that they can find relief from the pain and embarrassment so often caused by the issue. At Coyle Institute, Dr. Michael Coyle offers his specialized expertise as a urogynecologist to treat defecatory dysfunction in women of all ages, providing them with the highest standard of care in an environment that is safe and friendly.

Defecatory Dysfunction Symptoms

Generally, defecatory dysfunction is any system of symptoms that directly relate to the proper function of the bowel, the most prevalent of which include the inability to successfully initiate or complete defecation or bowel movements through the natural processes of the body. Many women suffer from bowel movement problems at some point in their lives, especially as they age and the pelvic floor muscles weaken or deteriorate.

Defecatory dysfunction presents itself in many ways, including:

  • Fecal incontinence, which can be in the form of liquid or solid stool; gas; or mucus
  • Pain in the rectal area
  • Posturing, which is a controlled contraction of the pelvic floor muscles done in order to avoid defecation and lessen associated pain
  • Dependency on enema or laxatives to successfully defecate
  • Trouble with bowel movement such as the inability to fully evacuate the bowel
  • The necessity of using the fingers to massage the perineum to stimulate defecation

Defecatory Dysfunction: A Common Block

One of the most commonly experienced conditions of defecatory dysfunction includes constipation or defecatory obstruction. And while much of the general population may suffer from temporary constipation, the issue can become chronic, should the rectum become obstructed in some way. Most often, four different types of obstruction will occur:

  • Dissipation of force vector, which generally means that the tissues or muscles in the rectal area are torn or damaged
  • Impaired rectal sensitivity, which means that the nerves in the rectum are less able to respond to natural stimulus
  • Functional outlet obstruction means that the problem is not visible to the eye but rather manifests itself internally. Oftentimes, these instances of bowel dysfunction are caused by a disease or hereditary medical condition which affects the actual function of the internal anal sphincter or the pelvic floor muscles.
  • Mechanical outlet obstruction, which means that the rectum is actually physically obstructed.

The most prevalent characteristics used in the diagnosis of defecatory obstruction are irregularities in the time required to complete the transitory process through the colon and the inability to defecate voluntarily. Once such conditions are identified, the issue is further validated and assessed for degree of severity. Most women suffering from the disorder experience pain or discomfort in the abdomen, an excessive amount of straining during attempts at defecation, or evacuation of the rectum that is incomplete. Due to these factors, they often find that they require the use of stimulation such as enemas, laxatives, or physical application of pressure on the back wall of the vagina or on the perineum using the fingers; and while these methods might provide temporary solutions, the issue is hardly resolved.

Defecatory Dysfunction: Tactics for Treatment

Fortunately, there are treatment options for the various forms of bowel disorders, but these treatments can only be recommended based on the actual cause of the condition itself. Consequently, proper diagnosis is key in determining the best course of action; and at Coyle Institute, we have years of expertise in diagnosing and treating everything from the most common bowel movement problem to the most severe cases of defecatory dysfunction.

Once the cause is identified, treatment can then be pursued; and at Coyle Institute, we work with our patients to find the very best options to fit their specific needs and address any concerns they might be feeling. Should the diagnosis prove to indicate the need for surgery, Dr. Coyle holds the unique distinction of being highly experienced in performing both non-invasive and minimally invasive surgeries, including robotically-assisted procedures as well as laparoscopic surgery and colon hydrotherapy. Not all cases of defecatory dysfunction require surgery, however.

 Alternative solutions include:

At Coyle Institute, we believe that all women should be free from the concerns of defecatory dysfunction, and we offer the patients in our care our expertise and our dedication to serving them at the highest level. Whether yours are concerns related to bowel function or other urogynecological conditions including urinary incontinencepelvic organ prolapse, pelvic pain, or pelvic floor disorder, we welcome you to see just what sets us apart. Take charge of your life and give us a call today!