Fecal incontinence

Fecal incontinence is the loss of bowel control resulting in involuntary passage of feces. The ability to hold stool and maintain continence requires normal function of the rectum, anus and the nervous system.

This can be characterized by the occasional leakage of stool with the passage of gas, or complete loss of bowel control.

Common causes

  • Constipation – causes a weakening of anus and intestines
  • Impacted stool in rectum
  • Severe diarrhea
  • Anal sphincter muscle damage
  • Nerve or other muscle damage
  • Gynecological, prostate or rectal surgery
  • Chronic laxative abuse

Typical treatment

Lifestyle intervention

It can help to change the diet: eliminate alcohol and caffeine, and add more fiber to increase bulk of stool.

Bowel retraining

Bowel retraining can help promote better muscle tone.


  • Absorbent incontinence products
  • Medication such as Loperamide (Imodium) to control diarrhea and potentially eliminate incontinence
  • Surgical treatment to rectify clearly identified cause