Fecal incontinence is not a hot topic of conversation. Women and men often suffer from this condition in silence because they’re embarrassed to bring it up with their physicians. In fact, one survey found that “less than 30% of patients with fecal incontinence have talked to their doctor about it.” What’s up with that?
Information is power, especially when it comes to your health. So here’s a cheat sheet to equip you with everything from terminology to causes to the many solutions for fecal incontinence. There is hope!
What is fecal incontinence?
Fecal incontinence, also called bowel incontinence, is any involuntary leakage (solid or liquid stool; mucus) from the anus. Generally, there are two types of fecal incontinence.
- Urge fecal incontinence is when you feel the urge for a bowel movement but cannot reach a toilet in time. This condition involves a muscle problem, where there isn’t sufficient control or muscle tone in the pelvic floor to prevent a bowel movement.
- Passive fecal incontinence is when you cannot feel bowel leakage. People don’t have the sensation that tells them to go to the bathroom, so they don’t know when it’s time for a bowel movement. This is primarily a nerve problem.