Fecal Incontinence

Fecal incontinence is the loss of control over the bowels. Some people may have uncontrolled release of just gas and liquid stool. Others have no control over the release of solid waste.

  • Causes


    Women are more likely to suffer from this condition than men. Many cases are a result of an injury to the pelvic floor. The pelvic floor is a group of muscles that support pelvic organs. Injury can happen through complications from childbirth
    . Other causes include:

    • Constipation
    • Rectal prolapse
    • A condition that is present from birth
    • Trauma or injury to anal sphincter or its nerves—the healthy sphincter opens and closes to control the release of fecal material
    • Diarrhea

    • Scarring of the rectum from
      radiation therapy
      or surgery
    Rectal Prolapse
    Rectal prolapse
    The rectum falls through the anal opening.
    Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

  • Definition

    Fecal incontinence is the loss of control over the bowels. Some people may have uncontrolled release of just gas and liquid stool. Others have no control over the release of solid waste.

  • Diagnosis

    Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Your doctor may send you to a specialist, such as a:

    • Gastroenterologist
    • Colorectal surgeon
    • Proctologist

    Your bodily structures may need to be viewed. This can be done with:

    • X-rays
    • Endoanal ultrasound
    • Proctosigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy

    The pressure of your anal canal may need to be checked. This can be done with anorectal manometry.

  • Prevention

    To help reduce your chance of getting fecal incontinence, take the following steps:


    • Prevent constipation by eating a
      high-fiber diet
      and drinking plenty of fluids.
    • Pay attention to your diet and avoid foods that trigger diarrhea.
    • Try to maintain a regular bowel movement schedule.
    • Talk to your doctor if you are having trouble with diarrhea or constipation.

  • Risk Factors

    Risk factors include:


    • History of
      episiotomy
    • Increased age

    • Diseases of the nervous system such as
      stroke

    • Damage to the spinal cord such ascauda equina syndrome

    • Other risk factors thought to contribute to fecal incontinence include:

      • Diabetes
      • Lack of physical activity
      • Being overweight

  • Symptoms

    The main symptom is the inability to control bowel movements, which leads to leakage of solid or liquid stool.

  • Treatment

    Talk with your doctor about the best plan for you. Options include: