Fecal Incontinence

What is Fecal Incontinence?

The inability to control bowel movements, thereby leading to unexpected leakage of stools from the rectum is called fecal incontinence. It could be simpler meaning occasional leakage of stool while passing gas or it could also be complete loss of bowel control.

Fecal incontinence can be embarrassing but do consult a doctor at the earliest. If left untreated, the problems could worsen and decrease the quality of your life.


The symptoms of fecal incontinence are:

  • Inability to resist the urge to defecate
  • Inability to sense the need of defecation
  • Gas accumulation
  • Bloating
  • Diarrhea


There could be multiple causes for fecal incontinence: 

  • Muscle damages
  • Nerve damages
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of storage capacity in rectum
  • Rectal prolapse
  • Rectocele
  • Surgeries
  • Physical disability


You could be at the risk of fecal incontinence if you have the following risk factors:

  • Being middle and older aged
  • Female gender
  • Alzheimer’s disease and Dementia
  • Nerve damages
  • Physical disabilities




To prevent fecal incontinence, you are advised to: 

  • Maintain a healthy body
  • Eat fibrous food to avoid constipation
  • Avoid irritants that are not tolerated by your bowel system
  • Drink lots of water

How is it diagnosed?

At Medanta, your doctor may use many methods to diagnose fecal incontinence. They include:


How is it treated?

Depending on what the cause of your fecal incontinence is, treatments at Medanta could include:


  • Medication

    Doctors might go for drugs like bulk laxatives, anti-diarrheal drugs and bulking agents.


  • Exercises

    It helps to restore muscle strength, improve anal sphincter control and the awareness of the urge to defecate. Some options are biofeedback and bowel training.

  • Sacral nerve stimulation

    The sacral nerves control your urge to defecate and regulate the muscles of the rectum and anus. A small device that sends electrical impulses may be implanted to strengthen bowel muscles.

  • Surgeries

    The surgical options used to treat fecal incontinence are:

    • Colostomy – This is a bowel diversion technique in which the stools are collected through an opening in the abdomen and is used only as the last resort.
    • Dynamic graciloplasty – Muscle from inner thigh may be grafted around the sphincter to make it stronger.
    • Sphincteroplasty –This is a method used to repair damages or weakened sphincter in which the damaged area is cut off from the surrounding tissues. The uninjured areas are then sewn back together to tighten the sphincter.
    • Sphincter replacement – Artificial anal sphincter may be implanted surgically, which keeps itself shut until external simulation. Once you are ready to defecate it can be opened. 
    • Other surgeries – Other surgeries be used to treat rectal prolapse or hemorrhoids or rectocele.

When do I contact the doctor?

Do not hesitate to seek medical aid if you cannot control your bowel movements or feel sudden uncontrollable urge to defecate. 

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