Bowel Incontinence Overview

When stool or feces leaks from the rectum and there is loss of control in having bowel movements, a diagnosis of bowel incontinence is made.

The leakage ranges from full loss of bowel control to a small amount of seepage, either solid or liquid, when passing gas.

While more common in older people, it is not associated with aging. Twelve percent of adults suffer from fecal incontinence – almost 18 million people.

Causes of bowel incontinence include:

  • Irregular bowel habits (constipation or diarrhea)
  • Nerve injury
  • Muscle weakness or damage
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Pelvic floor dysfunction
  • Lack of flexibility for the rectum

Conditions leading to fecal incontinence include:

  • Complicated childbirth with pelvic floor injuries to muscles
  • Nervous system damage from injuries or disease
  • Diarrhea
  • Chronic medical ailments


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