Accidental Bowel Leakage and A New Treatment Option Q&A with Dr. Heidi Wittenberg

Dr. Heidi Wittenberg of the Urogynecology Center of San Francisco has recently begun offering a new treatment for women suffering accidental bowel leakage. The Eclipse System, developed in the by Bay Area, offers a non-surgical, non-pharmaceutical therapy that allows women to regain control over their lives.

Dr. Wittenberg answered a few questions below about this condition and what women can expect from this new treatment below:

Q: How common is accidental bowel leakage (ABL)?

A: I see it in my practice quite frequently! Women come to me who have been suffering for years and haven’t talked to anyone about it. I always tell them that it is far more common than they think, but everyone is too embarrassed to say anything. In fact, more than 20 million women in the U.S. suffer from loss of bowel control.

It’s so common because there are several different factors that can lead to ABL, including pregnancy, childbirth, nerve or muscle damage in the pelvic region, and gastrointestinal disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome. Women experience it in different ways – some will feel a strong urge to have a bowel movement; other times, leakage can occur without warning.

Q: What treatment options are available?

A: Typically, we will start with conservative treatments including dietary changes, exercise and medications. If the issue persists, we may need to move on to more invasive treatments, such as surgery, surgical implants, or injections.

I am excited because I recently started offering a new therapy called the Eclipse System. This is a great option for women who have tried conservative treatments and want to avoid surgery.

Q: How does the Eclipse System work?

A: It’s a vaginal insert that is placed in the same location as a tampon or a diaphragm, and can be removed at any time. A detachable and discreet pump is used to inflate and deflate a balloon on the insert. When patients are ready to have a bowel movement, they deflate the balloon. Once finished, patients inflate the balloon. The design allows patients to actively control their bowels.

There is a temporary version of the insert that allows a woman to try it out for a week and see if she likes it.

Q: Is Eclipse comfortable for women?

A: A well-fitted insert will be comfortable for almost all women. Women who were successfully fit with Eclipse in a one-month study overwhelmingly reported comfort wearing the insert. Additionally, 98% of those women said they would recommend it to a friend!

Q: Are there side effects associated with Eclipse?

A: In a study of 61 women, zero serious adverse events were reported that were related to Eclipse. The most common adverse event was pelvic cramping and discomfort. Like many vaginal inserts, not every woman can be successfully fit with Eclipse. Your physician can help you determine if Eclipse is right for your body.

Q: How can I try the Eclipse System?

A: Eclipse can be fit in an office visit. After this fitting visit, you will have the opportunity to wear a temporary version of the insert for 1-2 weeks to make sure we have selected the right size, and to verify that the Eclipse works for you. If you are experiencing accidental bowel leakage, please contact my office at (415) 395-9895 to schedule a consultation or, fill out a contact form online.