A number of factors may increase your risk of developing fecal incontinence, including:

  • Age. Although fecal incontinence can occur at any age, it's more common in middle-aged and older adults. Approximately 1 in 10 women older than age 40 has fecal incontinence.
  • Being female. Fecal incontinence is slightly more common in women than in men. One reason may be that fecal incontinence can be a complication of childbirth. But most women with fecal incontinence develop it after age 40, so other factors may be involved.
  • Nerve damage. People who have long-standing diabetes or multiple sclerosis — conditions that can damage nerves that help control defecation — may be at risk of fecal incontinence.
  • Dementia. Fecal incontinence is often present in late-stage Alzheimer's disease and dementia.
  • Physical disability. Being physically disabled may make it difficult to reach a toilet in time. An injury that caused a physical disability also may cause rectal nerve damage leading to fecal incontinence.
Nov. 06, 2012