Everything you need to know about fecal incontinence (2023)

“My mother was 48 at the time of the car accident. She injured her spine and suffer from many issues since then. All the other things we can handle, but this... urine leakage is too much, for me and her. We tried medicines, herbal therapies, all kinds of exercises, but nothing helped. Sometimes, if she doesn’t reach the toilet in time, she even experiences fecal incontinence, she leaks stools. The only thing that is helping is diapers. We have been using your diapers for the last 3 years now. Thank you for making good products. The accidents happen much less now and she is also feeling happier than before.”

- Anonymous writer.

We received this testimony from a retired teacher. We are so grateful that we get the chance to make a difference in people’s lives. We hope this person’s mother finds true happiness in life.

Such is the effect of fecal incontinence. Losing control of bowels is a challenging condition that can have a deep impact on a person’s life. For the former teacher, it has been really bad. Sufferers of bowel leaks are in a constant state of anxiety, never knowing when their body might betray them and leave them humiliated and ashamed. It is tough because they are forced to plan their life around their condition and avoid social situations and activities that they once enjoyed. They might often feel like a burden to their loved ones and feel terribly alone in their condition.

It’s heartbreaking to think that anyone would have to live with a condition so unbearable, but it’s all too common. Fecal incontinence affects about 1 in 10 people and is more common in women and people over the age of 65. Despite this, many people suffer in silence, too embarrassed to seek help or speak out about their condition.

But it's time to break the stigma and start talking about fecal incontinence openly and honestly. By learning more about this condition and the treatment options available, we can start to create a more supportive and understanding society for those living with it.

In this blog, we'll explore everything you need to know about fecal incontinence, from fecal incontinence symptoms to its causes, diagnosis and treatment. Whether you are living with fecal incontinence yourself or are looking to support a loved one who is, this blog is for you.

What is fecal incontinence?

Fecal incontinence is involuntary leakage of solid or liquid feces (stool/poop) or mucus due to an inability to control bowel movements. It is also referred to as bowel incontinence sometimes. Fecal incontinence can range from occasional stool leakage while passing gas or laughing too hard to complete loss of bowel control.

Types of fecal incontinence

There are two types of fecal incontinence:

Urge: With urge fecal incontinence, you will feel a fecal urgency so suddenly that you won’t be able to make it to the toilet in time.

Passive: With passive fecal incontinence, you won’t be aware that you’re passing stool when it’s happening and might only realize it later from the wetness or the smell of it.

What causes fecal incontinence?

Normal bowel control relies on the proper functioning of:

  • Pelvic floor muscles

  • Rectum (the last several inches of the large intestine)

    (Video) Fecal Incontinence, Causes, Signs and Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment.

  • Anal muscles

  • Anal sphincter muscles (These muscles form a ring around the anus and prevents gas and bowel movements from leaking out)

  • Nervous system

When any of these areas are injured, it can result in fecal incontinence.

Some of the common fecal incontinence causes include:

  • Neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, stroke, spinal cord injury, dementia, etc.

  • Constipation or diarrhea

  • Irritable bowel syndrome

  • Hemorrhoids (inflamed or swollen veins in the rectum and anus)

  • Rectal prolapse (Part of the large intestine slips out the anus)

  • Proctitis (Swelling of the rectum)

  • Rectocele (Tissue wall that separates the rectum and vagina is weakened)

  • Brain injuries

  • Obstetric surgeries (Surgeries performed on a pregnant woman)

    (Video) What is Fecal Incontinence?

  • Vaginal delivery

  • Spinal cord injuries

  • Surgeries to remove rectal or anal cancer

Lifestyle factors can also increase the risk of developing fecal incontinence. Lack of physical activity, smoking, and obesity are some of the risk factors that can increase the likelihood of developing this condition.

Fecal incontinence diagnosis

The diagnostic process for fecal incontinence can be large. First, your doctor will perform a thorough health and medical history evaluation and a physical test to assess your symptoms and condition.

Then they may order the following tests, and maybe even more, to help reach a diagnosis:

  • A digital rectal exam

  • A pelvic exam (specific to diagnose fecal incontinence in women)

  • Blood and stool test (to check for inflammation or infection)

  • Barium enema (an X-ray with barium contrast)

  • Urine test

  • Electromyography (to examine the function of the nerves and muscles)

  • Anorectal ultrasound

Because there are so many possible causes behind fecal incontinence, some of which can be severe health conditions, thorough testing is vital to rule out everything and determine the root cause and receive treatment.

(Video) Gastroenterology - Fecal Incontinence: By Wayne Rosen M.D.

Fecal incontinence treatments

There are several bowel incontinence treatments; your doctor will most likely start with the simplest treatments as they can improve the condition by 60% in about 2 in 10 people with the condition. These are also the go to treatments for bowel incontinence in elderly. These simple treatments are:

  • Keeping a food diary to help you find which foods worsen your condition and avoid it.

  • Taking diarrhea or constipation medicines.

  • Adding more fiber to your diet to make the stools more solid.

  • Doing Kegel exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, anus, and rectum.

  • Following a set schedule for bowel movements.

If these treatment plans prove ineffective, your doctor will try different therapies:

  • Biofeedback: This treatment involves using sensors to measure muscle activity in the pelvic floor and provide feedback to the patient, allowing them to learn how to better control bowel movements.

  • Injection therapy: Bulking agents, such as silicone or carbon beads, are injected into the anal sphincter to help improve muscle function and reduce episodes of fecal incontinence.

  • Nerve stimulation: The nerves that control bowel movements are stimulated to improve muscle function and reduce fecal incontinence.

There are also some surgical treatments to help improve this condition:

  • Rectal prolapse surgery: If fecal incontinence is caused by rectal prolapse, surgery to repair the prolapse can also help improve bowel control.

  • Artificial anal sphincter: An artificial sphincter is surgically implanted around the anal sphincter and consists of a cuff, a pressure-regulating balloon, and a pump. The cuff is inflated with fluid to prevent involuntary bowel movements, and the pressure-regulating balloon and pump allow for adjustments and control of the cuff.

  • Sphincteroplasty: Injured or separated sphincter is brought back together by stitching.

    (Video) Fecal Incontinence: Causes, Risk Factors and Treatments | Colorectal Surgeon Susan Gearhart

  • Colostomy: In severe cases where other treatments have failed, a colostomy may be necessary. This involves diverting the colon through an opening in the abdominal wall and attaching a collection bag to collect stool.

Living with fecal incontinence

Living with fecal incontinence can be challenging and may require some adjustments to one's daily routine, but these adjustments can definitely improve the quality of your life.

  • Always have an extra set of clothes and incontinence products such as Friends Adult Diapers and Friends Underpads with you.

  • Locate the nearest bathrooms when you are out and about.

  • Go to the bathroom before you leave the house.

  • Take your medications as directed by your doctor.

  • Wear Friends Adult Diapers to prevent any spills, stains, and embarrassing accidents.

Develop a support system that includes family, friends, and healthcare professionals who can offer you emotional support and guidance in times of need.

FAQs about Fecal Incontinence

1. Is fecal incontinence curable?

Fecal incontinence can be treatable in many cases, but it may not always be curable. The treatment options range from lifestyle changes to medications, surgery, or a combination of treatments.

2. What is the common cause of fecal incontinence?

The most common causes of fecal incontinence include damage to the muscles or nerves in the anal sphincter, diarrhea, and constipation. Other potential causes include childbirth injuries, rectal prolapse, and certain medical conditions such as diabetes and multiple sclerosis.

3. What are the first signs of bowel incontinence?

The first signs of bowel incontinence may include the inability to control gas or mild stool leakage. As the condition progresses, more frequent and severe episodes of fecal incontinence may also occur.

4. How do you stop fecal incontinence naturally?

There are some natural remedies that may help with fecal incontinence, such as practicing pelvic floor exercises, adjusting the diet to avoid trigger foods, and increasing fiber intake. However, it's essential to consult with a healthcare professional to determine the best course of treatment based on the underlying cause of fecal incontinence.

5. What are the home remedies for bowel incontinence?

Some bowel incontinence home remedies that may help manage bowel incontinence include:

  • Kegel exercises: These exercises can help strengthen the muscles that control bowel movements.

    (Video) What are the causes of bowel incontinence?

  • Dietary changes: Eating a high-fiber diet and drinking plenty of water can help regulate bowel movements and reduce the risk of constipation or diarrhea.

  • Scheduled toilet breaks: Setting a regular schedule for using the bathroom can help train the body to have bowel movements at predictable times.

  • Food journal: Keeping a food journal can help you identify what foods are worsening your condition and avoid them.


What is the most common cause of bowel incontinence? ›

Constipation is a leading cause of bowel incontinence. In cases of severe constipation, a large, solid stool can become stuck in the rectum. This is known as faecal impaction. The stool then begins to stretch the muscles of the rectum, weakening them.

What are some facts about faecal incontinence? ›

Medical experts consider fecal incontinence a common problem, affecting about 1 in 3 people who see a primary health care provider. Fecal incontinence is more common in older adults. Among adults who are not in hospitals or nursing homes, between 7 and 15 out of 100 have fecal incontinence.

What does full incontinence of feces mean? ›

Fecal incontinence, also called accidental bowel leakage, is the accidental passing of solid or liquid stools from your anus. You may have a strong urge to have a bowel movement and not be able to control it. You may have bowel leakage and not know it.

Can bowel incontinence be cured? ›

Bowel incontinence is usually treatable. In many cases, it can be cured completely. Recommended treatments vary according to the cause of bowel incontinence. Often, more than one treatment method may be required to control symptoms.

How do you stop bowel incontinence naturally? ›

Marines recommends starting with a few tried-and-true home remedies to relieve symptoms of bowel incontinence:
  1. Eating plenty of fiber. ...
  2. Limiting caffeine. ...
  3. Keeping a food journal and avoiding problem foods. ...
  4. Having a bowel regimen. ...
  5. Performing Kegel exercises. ...
  6. The occasional water enema.
Mar 24, 2021

How is faecal incontinence usually managed? ›

Depending on the cause of fecal incontinence, options include: Anti-diarrheal drugs such as loperamide (Imodium A-D) and those containing diphenoxylate and atropine (Lomotil). Bulk laxatives such as methylcellulose (Citrucel) and psyllium (Metamucil), if chronic constipation is causing your incontinence.

What are three reasons for faecal incontinence in an older person? ›

Physical causes of fecal incontinence in the elderly
  • Nerve damage. Since our nerves let us know when it's time for a bowel movement, damage can lead to incontinence. ...
  • Muscle damage. Lack of muscle control may make it difficult to hold in stool. ...
  • Chronic constipation. ...
  • Diarrhea. ...
  • Hemorrhoids. ...
  • Rectal inelasticity.
Jul 3, 2020

What vitamin helps with bowel incontinence? ›

The following supplements for bowel incontinence are considered safe to use and effective for reducing fecal incontinence symptoms:
  • Gasha-jinki-gan. ...
  • Saw Palmetto. ...
  • Vitamin D. ...
  • Zinc. ...
  • Magnesium. ...
  • Dietary Modification. ...
  • Lifestyle Changes. ...
  • Sacral Nerve Stimulation.
Feb 10, 2023

When is bowel incontinence serious? ›

You should see a doctor if your fecal incontinence is frequent or severe. Although some people are able to manage mild or infrequent fecal incontinence on their own, you should see a doctor if your fecal incontinence is affecting your quality of life or causing emotional or social distress.

Why do I wipe and wipe and still have poop? ›

Common causes include: Chronic diarrhea Constipation Hemorrhoids Crohn's disease The skin of the anus can stick to the stool and make it difficult to clean the anorectal area after a bowel movement. Leaky gut Leaky gut is also known as fecal incontinence.

What medications can cause bowel incontinence? ›

Official answer
  • Antibiotics, such as cephalosporins (eg, cefaclor), penicillins (eg, amoxicillin), or macrolides (eg, clarithromycin)
  • Cancer medications, such as cyclophosphamide, 5-fluorouracil, or paclitaxel.
  • Laxatives, such as lactulose, docusate, or bisacodyl.
  • Antacids that contain magnesium.
Aug 23, 2022

Is bowel incontinence stress related? ›

Fecal incontinence can be caused by constipation, diarrhea, or anxiety or other emotional stress. It can also result from nerve injury, muscle damage (especially from childbirth), lack of exercise, or poor diet. Treatment of fecal incontinence depends on what caused it and how bad it is.

What foods help with bowel incontinence? ›

eating more high-fibre foods like fruit, vegetables, beans and wholegrain foods (such as wholemeal bread) drinking plenty of fluids, especially water.

How do you hold your bowels back? ›

To withhold a bowel movement, it is necessary to control the anal muscles. Contracting certain muscles in the anus helps stop the release of stool, whereas relaxing them facilitates a bowel movement. To contract these muscles and hold in poop, people should squeeze their buttocks tightly together.

What is one good intervention for incontinence? ›

Management and treatment for incontinence

increased fluid intake of up to two litres a day. high-fibre diet. pelvic floor exercises. bladder training.

Is there a cure for incontinence in the elderly? ›

Surgery can sometimes improve or cure incontinence if it is caused by a change in the position of the bladder or blockage due to an enlarged prostate.

How do seniors clean after a bowel movement? ›

After comfortably passing a stool, always wipe from front to back. Avoid any skin-to-skin contact with stool. Simply reach behind your back and between your legs, using plenty of crumpled or folded toilet tissue. Wipe backward from the perineum , the space between the genitals and anus, moving toward and past the anus.

What deficiency causes incontinence? ›

The vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency is reported to be linked to OAB syndrome, which exacerbated by stress conditions. Urinary incontinence and hypovitaminosis D are prevalent problems of the geriatric population (3).

What is the best fiber for bowel incontinence? ›

It's best to get extra fiber from food. Good sources of dietary fiber include bran cereals, uncooked fruits and vegetables, whole-grain breads and pasta, and brown rice. Fiber supplements can also help. If you take one, be sure to drink plenty of liquid with it to avoid constipation.

Does b12 help with incontinence? ›

When incontinence occurs, you can experience a leakage of urine. Although it can be caused by many things, incontinence that resolves when vitamin B is increased can be attributed to a vitamin B deficiency.

Why is my poop so messy to wipe? ›

Endless wiping after a bowel movement is normal, and it's usually not a cause for concern. It's most likely because you have poop “turtling” inside your anus, so just be patient and let it all come out. And most importantly, level up your wiping materials so you can clean—not smear—the aftermath from your dump.

Why can't I stop wiping when I poop? ›

Common causes of fecal incontinence include diarrhea, constipation, and muscle or nerve damage. The muscle or nerve damage may be associated with aging or with giving birth. Whatever the cause, fecal incontinence can be difficult to discuss. But don't shy away from talking to your doctor about this common problem.

How do you wipe your bottom when you can't reach? ›

If mobility issues or pain prevent you from bending or reaching, there are products that can help. You can buy toilet paper aids with long handles that hold toilet paper on the end or tong-style products that grip the toilet paper between the prongs. Some even come in small carrying cases so you can use them on the go.

Why you should never wipe more than 3 times? ›

She goes on to explain,"when you are wiping more than two or three times, that is called faecal smearing.. "So it is essentially when too much faecal matter stays at the entrance of the anus even after you have finished your poo."

What are the psychological effects of faecal incontinence? ›

Faecal incontinence (FI) is a condition that is associated with a significant emotional impact, which extends to not only the patient but also the nurse or care worker. Patients can experience feelings of guilt and shame and a sense of 'incompetence', which can be connected to childhood experiences.

Can bowel incontinence be neurological? ›

The symptoms of neurogenic bowel dysfunction (NBD) comprise constipation and fecal incontinence. These have a major impact on quality of life and dignity. Bowel symptoms occur in the majority of patients with chronic neurological diseases like multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury, and Parkinson's disease.

What is impaired bowel incontinence related to? ›

Common factors that lead to bowel incontinence are an injury to rectal, anal, or nerve tissue from trauma, childbirth, radiation, or surgery. Infection with resultant diarrhea or neurological diseases such as stroke, multiple sclerosis, and diabetes mellitus can also result in bowel incontinence.

Are bananas good for bowel incontinence? ›

Avoid foods that increase your risk of bowel incontinence like alcohol and caffeine, prunes and some fruit juices, spicy foods, dairy products, beans, smoked meats, and artificial sweeteners. Then begin to eat more bananas, apple sauce, peanut butter, pasta, potatoes, and cheese. These will slow down and thicken stool.

Why do I have to wipe so many times when I poop? ›

Having to use a lot of toilet paper after pooping imay indicate some health conditions, including hemorrhoids or fecal incontinence. If you feel like you have to use half the roll of toilet paper after you have a bowel movement, chances are you may have an underlying health condition.

Why does my poop smear when I wipe? ›

If the stool is too soft, then it is difficult for the anal sphincter muscle to 'pinch it off' for a clean evacuation, leaving fecal matter to smear in the perianal creases. Another reason for this could be a weakness of the pelvic floor muscles.

How serious is a bowel leakage? ›

You should see a doctor if your fecal incontinence is frequent or severe. Although some people are able to manage mild or infrequent fecal incontinence on their own, you should see a doctor if your fecal incontinence is affecting your quality of life or causing emotional or social distress.

How do you get rid of old poop in your colon? ›

  1. Detox by drinking more water. The easiest way to detoxify your colon is to drink more water. ...
  2. Detox by dieting. Diuretic foods and herbs can help the body expel waste and speed up detoxification. ...
  3. Detoxify through exercise. ...
  4. Change your pooping posture. ...
  5. Take probiotics to improve gut health. ...
  6. Look into a colon cleanse.
Aug 4, 2022

Should you use wet wipes after pooping? ›

In such cases, you can use baby wipes or wet wipes that are gentler on the skin. Try to avoid overuse of these, as they can worsen irritation over time. Or, wet toilet paper or a wet washcloth can usually do the trick.

What nerve causes bowel incontinence? ›

The majority of patients with neuropathic incontinence and other pelvic floor conditions associated with straining at stool have damage to the pudendal nerves distal to the ischial spine.

Why do I have bits when I wipe my bum? ›


They can develop on the outside or inside of the anus, appearing as small bumps that occasionally bleed during bowel movements or when wiping. Hemorrhoids, which people may refer to as piles, can impact anyone of any age, but some people have a higher risk of developing them.


1. Fecal Incontinence, Anal Leakage - what you need to know
(Colorectal Surgery Services TV)
2. The basics of fecal incontinence – Heather Slay, MD
(Spectrum Health)
3. What is fecal incontinence?
(Ochsner Health)
4. What can I do about bowel leakage? | Summa Health System
(Summa Health)
5. Understanding and Treating Fecal Incontinence in Women - SLUCare Urogynecology
6. What are the treatment options for fecal incontinence? - Ask Saint Peter's
(Saint Peter's Healthcare System)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Nicola Considine CPA

Last Updated: 06/10/2023

Views: 6330

Rating: 4.9 / 5 (69 voted)

Reviews: 92% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Nicola Considine CPA

Birthday: 1993-02-26

Address: 3809 Clinton Inlet, East Aleisha, UT 46318-2392

Phone: +2681424145499

Job: Government Technician

Hobby: Calligraphy, Lego building, Worldbuilding, Shooting, Bird watching, Shopping, Cooking

Introduction: My name is Nicola Considine CPA, I am a determined, witty, powerful, brainy, open, smiling, proud person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.