Fecal incontinence is the involuntary passing of stool due to inability to control bowel movements. It is also often referred to as bowel incontinence or accidental leaky bowel. People who develop fecal incontinence are unable to control the passing of solid or liquid stool or mucus.

This article describes the types, symptoms, causes, and treatments for fecal incontinence.

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Types of fecal incontinence

There are three types of fecal incontinence.

  • impulse: It is characterized by how quickly you defecate after having to go to the toilet. In this type, the person is unable to control their bowel movements and defecates before going to the toilet.
  • passive: It occurs when stool or mucus is expelled from the anus, but the person experiencing it does not realize it is happening.
  • Join: A combination of both.

What are the symptoms of fecal incontinence?

The main symptom of fecal incontinence is the inability to control bowel movements. This can cause stool to leak outside the toilet at any time. For example, a person with fecal incontinence may cough and pass gas, and at the same time pass stool beyond their control.

In some cases, one person may be aware that it is happening and have no control over it, while others are unaware that it is happening. The only other symptom associated with fecal incontinence is soiling of underwear or clothing with feces.

How common is fecal incontinence and who suffers from it most?

Approximately 1 in 3 people will experience fecal incontinence during their lifetime. The people most affected are:

  • Elderly people over 65 years old
  • People who do not regularly engage in physical activity
  • People with underlying or chronic diseases or medical conditions
  • person who had their gallbladder removed
  • a person who smokes tobacco products
  • Adults in hospitals and nursing homes

What causes fecal incontinence?

There are several causes of fecal incontinence, which fall into one of three categories:

  • basic health condition
  • Trauma due to injury or surgery
  • Lifestyle

Underlying conditions that can cause fecal incontinence include:

Trauma to this area can also lead to the development of fecal incontinence. In some cases, trauma can damage the nerves involved in controlling bowel movements.

Other injuries can weaken the pelvic floor muscles, sphincter muscles, and pelvic floor muscles, causing fecal incontinence. Possible traumas include:

  • brain injury
  • Vaginal delivery during childbirth
  • spinal cord injury
  • Surgery to remove rectal or anal cancer, anal abscesses and fistulas, or hemorrhoids
  • obstetric surgery

Your lifestyle, especially how much you move throughout the day, can also increase your risk of fecal incontinence. Lack of physical activity can lead to large amounts of feces accumulating in the rectum, especially for people who are primarily sedentary in their daily lives. Liquid stool passes through the solid stool and leaks out of the anus.

As with Hirschsprung disease, fecal incontinence in children is caused by a congenital disorder that affects the function of the anus, rectum, or colon.

How does vaginal birth cause fecal incontinence?

Not everyone who gives birth to a child vaginally develops fecal incontinence. However, damage to the anal sphincter can occur if:

  • The baby is larger than normal.
  • Forceps were required to proceed with the birth.
  • Vacuum delivery was performed.
  • The delivery doctor cut the vaginal area to prevent it from tearing during the childbirth process.

How is fecal incontinence diagnosed?

The process of diagnosing fecal incontinence can be extensive. Several tests and tests are available, but your health care provider will first gather your medical history and symptoms. They ask you:

  • when it started
  • Whether an underlying disease or injury may be contributing
  • How often you defecate involuntarily and the amount of feces excreted when defecation occurs
  • If the stool is liquid or solid
  • Maybe you want to go to the bathroom but can’t make it in time, or maybe you don’t know when it’s time to go to the bathroom?
  • What your diet is like and possible links between the foods you eat and incontinence

You will also be tested to check for the following symptoms and diseases that may cause fecal incontinence:

  • rectal digital examination
  • pelvic examination
  • Blood and stool tests to check for inflammation and infection
  • Urine test to check for disease

Your health care provider may also do imaging and other tests to find out how well your intestines are working.

  • Anorectal pressure measurement: Find out how well your rectum and anal sphincter are working.
  • Defecography: X-rays to check the rectum’s ability to hold and expel stool
  • Electromyography: Tests the function of the nerves and muscles of the anus and pelvic floor.

Why is testing so intensive?

Thorough testing is essential for people with fecal incontinence, as there are many causes, some of which can be caused by serious health conditions. By doing so, you can identify the direct cause and receive appropriate treatment.

How is fecal incontinence treated?

There are several treatments for fecal incontinence. Healthcare providers are likely to start with the simplest treatment. This is because this treatment effectively improves the condition in about 60% of up to 20% of people who suffer from it. Simple treatments include:

  • Keep a food diary and change what you eat and drink based on which foods make your fecal incontinence worse or which improve it.
  • Taking medications to help treat diarrhea and constipation, such as Imodium (loperamide), Pepto-Bismol (bismuth subsalicylate), laxatives, and stool softeners
  • add fiber to your diet
  • Train your gut to set a bowel movement schedule
  • Do Kegel exercises often to strengthen your pelvic floor, anus, and rectum

If these treatments do not resolve or alleviate your symptoms, your health care provider may choose another type of treatment. Treatments that may help with fecal incontinence include:

  • Biofeedback therapy uses a device to learn how to better control your intestines
  • Sacral nerve stimulation stimulates the nerves that control intestinal function, resetting it so it functions better.
  • Prescription drugs to treat the underlying cause
  • vaginal balloon. It expands inside the vagina and puts pressure on the rectal wall, preventing the passage of stool.
  • A non-absorbable bulking agent is injected into the anal wall to increase the volume of the tissue, narrowing the anus and allowing the sphincter to close better.

Surgery as a treatment route

In some cases, surgery may be able to address fecal incontinence. Surgery includes:

  • Sphincteroplasty, reconnecting the anal sphincter muscle that has been separated after injury or childbirth
  • Colostomy sphincter. A cuff is introduced around the anus while a small pump is implanted, allowing it to inflate or deflate when a bowel movement is needed.
  • Colostomy. The colon is introduced through a hole in the abdominal wall, allowing stool to pass into a pouch outside the abdomen without passing through the rectum or anus.

Dealing with fecal incontinence

Fecal incontinence can be embarrassing, but it doesn’t have to be. There are ways to better manage fecal incontinence and improve your overall quality of life. They include:

  • Plan ahead when you leave the house by bringing a bag with cleaning supplies and a change of clothes.
  • Make sure you are nearby before you reach the toilet
  • go to the bathroom before leaving the house
  • Wear absorbent pads to prevent leakage into underwear
  • wear disposable underwear
  • Before going to a social event or eating out, take over-the-counter medications to prevent diarrhea and frequent bowel movements.

overcome embarrassment

Fecal incontinence is a medical problem and there are viable treatment options. Although it will not go away on its own, with the right treatment and health care provider, fecal incontinence can be alleviated and managed. As with any health condition, there is no need to be ashamed of it.


Fecal incontinence is a lack of bowel control. People with this disorder may not be able to make it to the bathroom in time even though they know they have a leaky gut, while others are unaware that they have a leaky gut.

To diagnose and treat fecal incontinence, your health care provider must perform a variety of tests and tests to confirm the cause and begin appropriate treatment. Although fecal incontinence is not easy to deal with, effective management can reduce anal leakage. Contact your health care provider if you experience fecal incontinence. These help diagnose and treat disorders and improve quality of life.

Written by Angelica Bottaro

Angelica Bottaro is a professional freelance writer with over 5 years of experience. She is trained in both psychology and journalism, and her dual education has provided her with the research and writing skills necessary to provide sound and engaging content in the health field. It’s done.

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