What is Fecal Incontinence and How is it Caused?

The lack of control over one’s bowels is called

fecal incontinence


Around five and a half million US citizens are known to suffer from this problem

. Due to the lack of control over bowel movement, one who suffers from this problem may pass stool before reaching the toilet and sometimes releasing gas can also lead to leakage of the stool through the rectum.

Who is Affected by Fecal Incontinence?:

Both adults and children can be equally affected by this problem. All the ages are known to get affected and it is mostly women and the elderly who are the majority victims of this disorder.

Though it affects the older people, it has nothing to do with the aging process.


Let us look at a few conditions and problems that lead to this bowel control problem.


Constipation is a major cause for this problem. People who suffer from constipation produce hard and large stools that get stuck in the rectum. Due to this, watery stool would start leaking around the hardened one. Also, constipation weakens the rectum muscles making it difficult for the rectum to hold stool for a longer time.

Muscle Damage:

There exist two muscles at the end of the rectum called the spinchter muscles (internal and external). These muscles make sure that the stool remains inside. But when they get damaged, they are weakened causing the stool to leak out.

Women often suffer from this problem during child birth. If the doctor performs a surgery during delivery, then the chances are even higher for a bowel problem.

Haemorrhoid surgery can also cause a considerable damage to the spinchter muscles.

Nerve Damage:

A damage to the nerves that control the spinchter muscles also leads to this problem. Any damage to the nerves would cause the muscles to function improperly there by not allowing the spinchter muscles to control the stool.

  • The damage to the sensory nerves would lead to an inability to judge the use of a toilet until the leak has occurred.
  • Nerve damage can be caused by child birth, physical disability, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, stroke et.


Diarrhoea produces loose stools which are produced at a much faster rate when compared to harder ones. So, people who are affected with diarrhoea are bound to suffer from incontinence issues as well.

Storage Incapacity:

People who undergo a rectal surgery or those who suffer from inflammatory bowel disease can scar their rectal walls making the rectum less elastic.

Other than the above mentioned problems,

fecal incontinence

is also caused by

pelvic floor dysfunction


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