Reality Check: Do You Have Faecal Incontinence?


I suffer from ongoing:

  • Loose stools or diarrhoea
  • Strong, excessive, uncontrollable bowel contractions which push out the stool
  • Uncontrolled relaxation of the anal sphincter

If any of these apply, talk to your doctor about Faecal Incontinence.

What are the symptoms of Faecal Incontinence?

Inability to control your bowel movements, causing stool (faeces) to leak unexpectedly from your rectum. Severity can range from an occasional leakage of stool while passing gas to a complete loss of bowel control. Fecal incontinence is often accompanied by diarrhoea, constipation, gas, bloating, and abdominal cramping.

How common is Faecal Incontinence?

NICE indicates a prevalence rate from 1 to 10% of adults are affected by fecal incontinence, depending on the definition and frequency of fecal incontinence used. The average person experiencing fecal incontinence is of middle age.

What causes Faecal Incontinence?

Causes include constipation, diarrhoea, and muscle or nerve damage associated with a weak or disrupted anal sphincter. Damage to the anal sphincter often occurs as a result of aging or from nerve and muscle injury resulting from childbirth by vaginal delivery.

How is Faecal Incontinence treated?

Treatment typically starts with behavioural modifications, dietary changes, pelvic floor exercises and antidiarrhoeal medicines to relax the bowel. Percutaneous tibial nerve stimulation (PTNS) with Urgent® PC is a low-risk, outpatient therapy typically used when conservative treatments aren’t enough but before more invasive treatments. Another option is injection of a bulking agent such as PTQ® to bulk-up weak or damaged muscles surrounding the anal sphincter. Surgery to implant an artificial anal sphincter or to remove a portion of the bowel is also an option.