Overview

Fecal incontinence is the inability to control bowel movements, causing stool (feces) to leak unexpectedly from the rectum. Also called bowel incontinence, fecal incontinence ranges from an occasional leakage of stool while passing gas to a complete loss of bowel control.

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 embarrassing. But don't shy away from talking to your doctor. Treatments are available that can improve fecal incontinence and your quality of life.

Fecal incontinence care at Mayo Clinic

Dec. 19, 2015
References
  1. Fecal incontinence. National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse. http://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/digestive-diseases/fecal-incontinence/Pages/facts.aspx. Accessed Aug. 8, 2015.
  2. Feldman M, et al. Fecal incontinence. In: Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease: Pathophysiology, Diagnosis, Management. 10th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2016. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Aug. 14, 2015.
  3. Cook AJ. Decision Support System. Rochester, Minn. July 15, 2015.
  4. Robson KM, et al. Fecal incontinence in adults: Etiology and evaluation. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Aug. 8, 2015.
  5. Robson KM, et al. Fecal incontinence in adults: Management. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Aug. 8, 2015.
  6. Bharucha AE, et al. Epidemiology, pathophysiology, and classification of fecal incontinence: State of the science summary for the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) Workshop. American Journal of Gastroenterology. 2015;110:127.
  7. Whitehead WE, et al. Treatment of fecal incontinence: State of the science summary for the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases Workshop. American Journal of Gastroenterology. 2015;110:138.
  8. Richter HE, et al. A vaginal bowel-control system for the treatment of fecal incontinence. Obstetrics & Gynecology. 2015;125:540.
  9. Schwartz DA, et al. Endorectal endoscopic ultrasound in the evaluation of fecal incontinence. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Aug. 8, 2015.
  10. Kaiser AM, et al. Current status: New technologies for the treatment of patients with fecal incontinence. Surgical Endoscopy. 2014;28:2277.
  11. Wald A, et al. ACG Clinical Guideline: Management of benign anorectal disorders. American Journal of Gastroenterology. 2014;109:1141.
  12. Paquette IM, et al. The American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons’ clinical practice guideline for the treatment of fecal incontinence. Diseases of the Colon & Rectum. 2015;58:623.
  13. Pico MF (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Jacksonville, Fla. Aug. 25, 2015.