Fecal Incontinence — Causes And Treatments

Fecal incontinence is a medical condition that relates to the inability to control bowel movements. Weak or damaged rectal and anal muscles, dementia, or a poor diet could contribute to passing stool unexpectedly. 

Incontinence Concerns

Fecal incontinence could be triggered by diarrhea or constipation. Watery stools or infrequent bowel movements can weaken the muscles that are responsible for triggering a rectal sensation. A rectal sensation alerts a person to the fact that they need to pass solid waste.

Excessive diarrhea and constipation could loosen muscles, making it difficult to hold stool in. Dementia could contribute to the inability to determine when a bowel movement is about to commence. Consuming a poor diet that consists of spicy foods, caffeine, and artificial ingredients could also lead to incontinence concerns.

Examination And Testing Processes

A gastroenterologist or a colorectal surgeon will examine a patient and perform tests. The examination and testing processes will determine if chronic incontinence is a concern. The examination will determine if any muscle damage is contributing to fecal incontinence.

Tests involve using various probes to assess the strength and structure of the anal sphincter muscles. A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) session may also be conducted. This type of session will allow a clinician to assess all of the pelvic muscles.


Fecal incontinence treatments include regulating the diet, strengthening the rectal and anal muscles, and undergoing surgery. If incontinence is experienced multiple times each day, a clinician may advise a patient to consume a diet that consists of foods that will thicken their stool.

Rice, pasta, applesauce, and potatoes are some food items that make the fecal matter more solid. A fiber supplement can be used to regulate the bowel movements that are experienced each day.

If a clinician has determined that muscular weakness has led to incontinence, they will prescribe some exercises that are designed to strengthen the muscles. If incontinence cannot be corrected with basic treatment processes, a doctor may recommend that a patient undergoes a surgical procedure.

Surgical Procedures

A surgical procedure may involve repairing the anal sphincter muscles or implanting an artificial bowel sphincter. Some surgical procedures entail the implantation of a neurotransmitter. A neurotransmitter prompts clear communication between the brain and the pelvic muscles.

The use of a neurotransmitter will regulate bowel movements and reduce or eliminate fecal incontinence. A medical provider will determine the proper treatment method for a patient, based on their current health and personal experiences with incontinence.