UAB News

  • Anal sex linked to increased risk of incontinence in both males, females
    Study published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology shows fecal incontinence risk from anal sex is heightened for both women and men, with men almost three times as likely to experience incontinence.

    Engaging in the practice of anal sex may increase risks for bowel problems, including fecal incontinence and bowel leakage, according to a University of Alabama at Birmingham Department of Medicine study published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology.

    The incontinence risk is heightened particularly among men who have sex with men, according to lead author Alayne Markland, D.O., associate professor in the Division of Gerontology, Geriatrics and Palliative Care in UAB’s School of Medicine. The researchers analyzed data from the 2009-2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys from 6,150 adults. They found 37 percent of women and almost 5 percent of men reported trying anal intercourse at least once. Women engaging in anal sex were 50 percent more likely than their peers to report having fecal incontinence at least once a month. The men’s odds of incontinence were almost tripled.

    “The study did not provide data on the frequency of the practice of anal sex and the impact of incontinence, but it did show a relationship between the practice of anal sex and fecal incontinence — more so among men than women,” Markland said. “What we don’t know is whether someone who has anal sex one or two times is at the same increased risk for fecal incontinence as someone who has anal sex regularly.”

    Overall, 4,170 adults ages 20-69 (2,070 women and 2,100 men) completed sexual behavior questionnaires and responded to fecal incontinence questions as part of the NHANES surveys. Overall, 8.3 percent of women and 5.6 percent of men in the study had fecal incontinence. Fecal incontinence rates were higher among women (9.9 percent) and men (11.6 percent) reporting anal intercourse than among women (7.4 percent) and men (5.3 percent) not reporting anal intercourse.

    Fecal incontinence was determined to have occurred by researchers who reviewed responses to survey questions about leakage of mucus, liquid or stool and occurred at least monthly. The study showed that most adults who experience fecal incontinence have only occasional bouts of diarrhea. However, fecal incontinence can be chronic; it is often caused by muscle and nerve damage around the rectum, constipation, certain diseases, surgical procedures, and childbirth.  

    Markland says previous clinical trials have shown that pelvic floor muscle or anal exercises can be an effective treatment for fecal incontinence, and she recommends those engaging in anal intercourse consider these exercises to help guard against decreased anal sphincter tone.

    Markland says little is known about how anal intercourse might affect bowel function, even though the survey showed the practice is common among both heterosexual and homosexual couples.

    “We really know very little about the connection between anal sex and fecal incontinence, especially among women,” Markland said. “Older studies among predominately HIV-positive males showed that men who have sex with men may have impaired rectal muscle strength. But one thing I think this study does show is that it is important that both the patient and clinical provider need to be aware of the potential risks associated with anal incontinence and be willing to discuss what those risks may be.”

    Markland says previous clinical trials have shown that pelvic floor muscle or anal exercises can be an effective treatment for fecal incontinence, and she recommends those engaging in anal intercourse consider these exercises to help guard against decreased anal sphincter tone.

    “These are also known as Kegel exercises,” Markland said. “But, doing these exercises has not been studied as a preventive measure for lowering the odds of having fecal incontinence in a general population. All we can do is speculate.”

    Markland maintains an NHANES data set, and her primary research interest is in incontinence, specifically bowel leakage. She completed the study using indirect funding from several grants.

    “I am always looking for potentially modifiable factors that may be related to bowel leakage,” Markland said. “Anal intercourse has been understudied in our population in general, and anal incontinence and bowel incontinence were evaluated only in men who have sex with men in older studies. I thought we really needed to look at both men and women and assess the prevalence and associations between anal intercourse and fecal incontinence in both genders.” 

  • New book by UAB professor examines the role of African-American educators during the Birmingham civil rights movement
    After more than 10 years of archival research and interviews with 45 African-American educators, Tondra Loder-Jackson, Ph.D., reveals their experiences and contributions to the movement.

    Birmingham is rich with stories about the civil rights movement and the prominent leaders, local activists and even children who fought for social change, but little is known about the role educators played during that time.

    A new book by University of Alabama at Birmingham professor Tondra Loder-Jackson, Ph.D., examines the role that African-American educators played in the Birmingham civil rights movement from the late 19th century to the present day.

    “This is the first book of its kind that is devoted primarily to the multigenerational perspectives of African-American educators in the South and how they perceived their roles and contributions to the civil rights movement,” said Loder-Jackson. “I wasn’t born in Birmingham, but I grew up here. My early experiences of attending Birmingham schools during the period of desegregation are part of what shaped my interest in this topic.”

    Schoolhouse Activists: African American Educators and the Long Birmingham Civil Rights Movement” revisits the longstanding debate about whether educators were friends or foes of the civil rights movement. The book is the culmination of more than 10 years of archival research and interviews. Loder-Jackson has found that African-American educators in Birmingham were involved in both the front lines of the movement and behind the scenes in ways that are not easily noticeable to most scholars and the general public.

    “Educators spent time teaching students about social justice issues and the perils of Jim Crow,” said Loder-Jackson. “Many of them supported students when they learned of their interest in participating in the movement. An example of this is not reporting students to school administrators when they chose to skip class to participate in the Children’s Crusade. They faced opposition while fighting for benefits such as sick leave. Some even lost their jobs fighting for equal pay.”

    The book is divided into two parts. Part I chronicles the history of Birmingham education in relation to African-American educators between the late 19th century and the mid-20th-century classical phase of the movement, which began in 1954 with the Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education. In Part II, Loder-Jackson shares the memories and experiences of 45 African-American educators who came of age before, during and after the classical movement. She hopes the book will serve as a resource for current educators, community activists and students grappling with contemporary struggles for educational justice.

    “I’m not sure if some of our teachers today are aware of the impact they can have to change schools and society,” Loder-Jackson said. “We live in a time now where many teachers feel they are being dictated to by external entities like federal and state governments. I think it’s important for K-12 educators in particular to know that they have a history of activism and advocacy, and in the past they have been empowered to effect change in schools.”

    Loder-Jackson is an associate professor in the UAB School of Education Department of Human Studies. She will conduct her first campus book talk on Thursday, Feb. 18, from 4-6 p.m., at the UAB Hill Student Center, 1400 University Blvd., Room 203. The book talk is sponsored by the UAB Center for Urban Education and the African American Faculty Association

    To learn more about “Schoolhouse Activists: African American Educators and the Long Birmingham Civil Rights Movement,” click here. The first chapter of the book is available to read online.

  • Collat School of Business dean to be honored at A.G. Gaston Conference
    Jack recognized for innovation in business and education in memory of Birmingham’s A.G. Gaston.

    Eric Jack, Ph.D., dean of UAB’s Collat School of Business, will receive an award during a conference honoring the memory of a revered Birmingham businessman and civil rights activist.

    Each year, the A.G. Gaston Conference recognizes members of the community who embody characteristics of the late Gaston.

    During the 2016 A.G. Gaston Conference, organizers will present awards to Jack and to Perry Ward, Ph.D., president of Lawson State Community College. In honoring two educators, this year’s conference celebrates the memory of Gaston and his passionate support of education and the role it plays in allowing people to advance in business and society.

    Dean Jack will be recognized for his innovative approach to including members from different industries, such as the medical community, into UAB’s business programs.

    Students from the Collat School of Business will also play a role in the conference through the unveiling of their study focused on making Birmingham attractive to millennial entrepreneurs. 

    The awards will be presented during the A.G. Gaston Legacy Luncheon on Wednesday, Feb. 17, at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex. For more information or to register for the conference, visit www.aggastonconference.com.

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