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Bowel Incontinence

Introduction

Bowel incontinence (also known as faecal incontinence) describes someone is unable to control their bowel movements or flatulence (wind, gas). It comes in mild or severe forms and tends to affect people as they get older. Women are generally more affected than men since childbirth places strains on this area of the body, especially if a woman has experienced difficulties in childbirth.

Causes

A number of factors may lead to bowel incontinence, such as...

  • Damage to the anal sphincter.
  • Damage to the pelvic nerves.
  • Some specific surgical procedures.
  • Some spinal/neurological conditions.

Where either anal sphincter muscle damage or pelvic nerve damage is implicated, bowel incontinence is more likely where the patient also has loose stools.

Tests/Diagnosis

In order to find out what is causing bowel incontinence, two tests are commonly used. These are...

  • Anorectal manometry - this test measures the function of the muscle and nerves.
  • Ultrasound.

A range of treatment options are available for bowel incontinence, including sacral nerve stimulation and a non-surgical treatment called 'biofeedback'. Your specialist can advise you of the suitability of these treatments.