Fletcher Allen, a Vermont university hospital and medical center, serves all of
Vermont and the northern New York region. Located in Burlington, Fletcher Allen is a regional, academic healthcare center and teaching hospital in alliance with the University of Vermont.
- Continence Center
- Fanny Allen Campus
- Suite 101
- 792 College Parkway
Colchester, VT 05446
- Phone: 802-847-5800
- Fax: 802-847-4151
- Monday-Friday, 8 AM-5 PM
Incontinence is the inability to control the passage of urine or stool (also called feces). It is currently estimated that 20 million Americans suffer with involuntary loss of bladder control (urinary incontinence) and that many of these people also have problems with bowel control (fecal incontinence).
Incontinence: What You Need to Know
The Continence Center at Fletcher Allen is the only comprehensive, multidisciplinary center for the study and treatment of continence conditions in the region. The Continence Center team of urologists, gynecologists, physical therapists, continence nurse specialists, colorectal surgeons, and a urogynecologist, work together to treat all forms of bladder and pelvic floor disorders, including incontinence, urinary retention, pelvic prolapse and dysfunctional voiding.
We are committed to combining scientific research and information with advanced technology to provide our patients with compassionate, effective, individualized care. To ensure that each patient receives the proper diagnosis, we utilize the latest technology, such as advanced urodynamics. Urodynamic testing gives us a window into the precise cause of a bladder control problem. Providing this technology at our on-site testing facility allows us to deliver faster results and get patients started on the proper treatment as soon as possible.
No two patients are alike, and each patient’s treatment plan reflects our focus on personalized care. From initial consultation through diagnosis to treatment, we are committed to making each patient’s experience with us as comfortable, efficient and effective as possible. Our goal is to provide diagnostic and therapeutic options tailored to the patient’s problem, and to enable patients to make informed decisions about their care.
Experienced, Trusted Expertise
We specialize in treating patients for whom previous therapies have not been successful. Our patients include people who have had prior surgery or radiation, as well as those with neurologic disorders such as Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s Disease, stroke and spinal cord injuries. Backed by medical research and education, providers at the Continence Center bring the best techniques, technologies and clinical expertise possible to our patients. We’re proud to offer patients “one stop” for physician consults, advanced urodynamic testing, and the opportunity to participate in research activities and clinical trials.
What is Incontinence?
Types of incontinence issues include:
- Urinary Incontinence
- Fecal Incontinence
- Pelvic Support Problems
Several factors can increase your risk of developing either or both urinary incontinence and fecal incontinence, including:
- Age - the older you are the more likely you are to develop either or both urinary incontinence and fecal incontinence
- Gender - both urinary incontinence and fecal incontinence are more common in women than men
- Smoking - contributes to urinary incontinence. Fletcher Allen offers a quit smoking program
- Overweight - contributes to urinary incontinence
- Other diseases - Diabetes or kidney disease can contribute to urinary incontinence
- Nerve damage - contributes to fecal incontinence
- Dementia - contributes to fecal incontinence
- Physical disability - contributes to fecal incontinence
There are different types of urinary incontinence, including:
- Stress incontinence - Stress incontinence refers to accidental leakage of urine brought on by physical activities such as sneezing, laughing, coughing or exercise not psychological stress. Stress incontinence affects over 15 million Americans, almost 85 percent of whom are women between the ages of 30 and 59.
- Urge incontinence - Often associated with symptoms of urinary frequency, and frequent nighttime voids, urge incontinence is urinary leakage associated with a sudden overpowering desire to urinate. Patients with this problem often “map out” bathrooms all over town; the fear of not being able to get to a toilet fast enough results in feelings of anxiety in new situations. The combination of urinary frequency, urgency, nighttime voiding and urge incontinence are referred to as “overactive bladder.”
- Mixed incontinence - Many patients suffer from a mixture of both stress and urge incontinence, or “mixed incontinence.” If you suffer from this condition, you generally will leak both with and without activity. You may be very wet, requiring the use of multiple pads per day.
- Overflow incontinence - Overflow incontinence may occur when the bladder does not empty properly due to obstruction of flow (as can occur with an enlarged prostate), or from a weakened bladder muscle. Over time, the amount of urine in the bladder builds up and exceeds the capacity of the bladder, causing leakage.
Fecal incontinence is the loss of normal control of the bowels. This leads to stool leaking from the rectum (the last part of the large intestine) unexpectedly. It affects as many as 1 million Americans, particularly the aged, and is more frequent in women. It can be a minor problem when it is limited to occasional soiling of the underwear, or a considerable problem with loss of bowel control, leading to restriction of the patient’s daily activities. Fear of soiling can be socially isolating.
Passive fecal incontinence is the unnoticed loss of feces, or soiling. This can include the loss of minimal stool that is retained in the anal canal after normal defecation, and also nighttime incontinence. Urge fecal incontinence is when a patient has warning symptoms before they lose feces.
Pelvic Support Problems
Pelvic support problems affect women exclusively, in the urethra and bladder, the small intestine, the rectum, the uterus, and the vagina. When the supporting tissues of these pelvic organs are stretched or damaged, the organ may drop down and press against the wall of the vagina. The symptoms of pelvic support problems depend on which organs are involved.
The result may be minor discomfort or major problems in the way the organs work. Some symptoms include a feeling of pelvic heaviness or fullness, or as if something is “falling out” of the vagina (prolapse); a pulling or aching feeling in the lower abdomen, groin, or lower back; and leakage of urine or problems having a bowel movement.
Incontinence Diagnosis and Treatment
The treatment that is right for you will depend upon your exact incontinence diagnosis. At Fletcher Allen, we use specialized urological and colorectal techniques to diagnose urinary incontinence and fecal incontinence.
Fletcher Allen’s physicians are highly trained in performing surgical and non-surgical procedures for incontinence. Our knowledgeable doctors, nurses and staff use advanced technology to treat incontinence on a regular basis.
Find a Fletcher Allen physician or call 802-847-5800.